Longtime Gladstone rancher Gary Dassinger describes the past month as “pure hell”.
Dassinger has been charged with abuse and animal neglect of about 70 horses (some pregnant) and more than 50 cattle. He says the claims are completely untrue.
“This is just unjust, it’s not fair. It’s wrong,” he said. “It’s my luck they come the day that I was going to feed. I don’t know about anybody else animals but my animals pick out the best food first than leave the worst for last and the worst for last is what they observed and they assumed that’s what all I was feeding them.
He admits there were thin horses and some dead cattle, but he says the horses were thin because he hired someone to look after them. The dead cattle was not because of starvation or lack of water, he says, but more so because of old age and unforeseen medical conditions. Dassinger has a medical condition himself that affects his spine and he also has a bad hip. He claims the person he relied on for help didn’t live up to their agreement.
“I explained that the individual that was supposed to be taking care of them was no longer here and things were going to be changing because I would be again taking care of everything,” Dassinger said.
Dassinger says he did everything the Stark County Sheriff’s Department and veterinarian told him to do. He dewormed and deloused the animals and he says they were in good condition.
“This has been a long, hard winter for everybody,” he said. “Last year wasn’t a pretty good hay year. Those were complications to my situation.”
After a court order to seize and remove the animals from the property was served, law enforcement showed up to his ranch Thursday morning with several trailers to load up the horses, transporting them to the Triple H rescue in Mandan. Some were ready to be adopted.
“I’ve been doing this for over 40 years. I’ve developed an excellent reputation for my horses,” he said with tears rolling down his eyes. “And they were going to take this all away from me.”
A Stark County judge granted Dassinger an injunction, which stopped authorities from taking the animals and horses that were already in transit to Mandan. The animals were returned to Dassinger’s Gladstone ranch Thursday afternoon.
“One of the deputies told my daughter that they have to stop doing this,” he said. “Man hallelujah! My daughter fell to her knees and prayed.”
Dassinger’s fight is only beginning. The injunction is temporary and the seize order is still in effect.
He believes this sets a bad precedent for the farming and ranching community …that law enforcement can just come in and take your animals with no questions asked.
Dassinger says many ranchers this past year because of the dry summer and harsh winter went through the same thing he did. He says in his case he just picked the wrong man to look after his animals.
We reached out to the state’s attorney for a comment, but he did not return our phone call.
Dassinger is due in court on June 7th