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Holen charged with animal cruelty for horse deaths in Roosevelt County

Posted at 10:31 AM, Nov 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-02 13:01:52-04

(GREAT FALLS) Richard Dean Holen has been charged in connection with the deaths of more than a dozen horses in Roosevelt County.

Holen is charged with one felony count of aggravated animal cruelty, and five misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

Richard Dean Holen (Roosevelt County jail booking photo)
Richard Dean Holen (Roosevelt County jail booking photo)

According to court documents, the original owner of the horses told investigators that Holen agreed to take care of them. Holen reportedly told the owner that he had plenty of pasture land and would take care of them. Holen then brought the horses to land that he leases.

According to court documents, a veterinarian that inspected the carcasses said: “The horses all appeared to be in various states of decay indicating mortality has been occurring over a period of time. The foals appeared to have died first and were in advance state of decay being mostly skeletal remains with few maggots and pupa. Given the life cycle of maggots, death may have occurred ranging from 5 to 20 days.”

The veterinarian went on to state that “evidence suggests dehydration to be the leading cause of death.”

Holen is scheduled to appear in District Court on November 14, according to a Facebook post from Fort Peck Tribal Councilman Jestin Dupree.

Click here to read the charging documents (PDF).

We will update you as we get more information.

(AUGUST 28, 2018) Several agencies are investigating after more than a dozen dead horses were found on Fort Peck Tribal lands north of Wolf Point.

Fort Peck Fish & Game called the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office after they found the dead horses on Highway 13. They also found a pond near where the horses’ bodies were but it had dried up.

Fort Peck Tribal Councilman Jestin Dupree said in a Facebook post: “What was discovered was 9 mares and 5 colts all found dead with no water source anywhere. The Fort Peck Tribes Fish and Game Department along with the Roosevelt County Sheriff and myself went out to look at what was done to these horses. This is embarrassing and no animal should be treated like this.”

There is no word how long the horses were there or who left them. Dupree continued: “The land is tribal land is owned by a tribal member and it was reported that a non-tribal member was seen unloading horses in this area earlier this summer.”

Authorities have not yet determined how the horses died; possibilities include neglect, which could result in criminal charges; or possibly a lightning strike (see video below).

The Sheriff’s Office brought a veterinarian from Glasgow to examine the horses to determine how they died.

The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Peck Fish & Game, and Bureau of Indian Affairs are continuing to investigate the deaths.