DICKINSON, N.D. — A Southwest District Court judge granted an injunction on May 25, to a Gladstone man accused of animal neglect. The injunction stopped authorities from taking the animals and horses that were already in transit to Mandan. The animals were returned to the man’s Gladstone ranch Thursday afternoon.
The motion for a temporary restraining order was filed with the court by Thomas Murtha, attorney for Gary Dassinger. The motion claims that on or about April 22, law enforcement illegally searched property belonging to Gerald “Gary” M. Dassinger. A letter was issued to Dassinger on April 24 by the Stark County State’s Attorney Office. The letter alleged animal neglect and demanded compliance with a list of conditions.
“Gerald Dassinger complied with the list of conditions,” the motion stated.
Dassinger has been charged with four counts of animal cruelty, all Class C felonies, and six counts of animal neglect, all Class A misdemeanors. He will make his initial appearance in Southwest District Court on June 7.
On May 18, Carolyn Woodruff, of Knife River Veterinary Clinic, inspected the animals and conditions on Dassinger’s land. Woodruff stated that “there are no animals present that appear to be at risk of starvation or impending death,” according to the document. The motion states that Dassinger believes that the Stark County attorney was aware of the evaluation by Woodruff.
On May 22, about 70 horses and 20 cattle located south of Gladstone were seized by the Stark County Sheriff’s Office. Then the next day a petition for disposition of animals was filed and signed by the court.
“Mr. Dassinger was never given an opportunity to respond to the Order for Disposition nor was any hearing held in what appears to be a violation of Mr. Dassinger’s Federal and State due process rights,” the motion brief states.
Stark County State’s Attorney Tom Henning claims the case commenced with active neglect, but now weather has changed so that animals that are able to survive in pasture conditions will survive fine in any pasture.
“Our concern, obviously, was the state of the premises and the condition of the animals that were found at the place a month ago, not today,” he said.
Dassinger said in a phone interview that he believes he hired the “wrong help.” In December, he hired a ranch hand to help him care for his animals beginning Jan. 1. Dassinger had been experiencing health problems, including hip and spinal issues that prevented him from caring for the animals himself.
“I finally told (the ranch hand) an ultimatum and he agreed to that and worked two days and then left,” Dassinger said. “The next day the sheriff shows up taking a couple animals.”
While he admits that some of the animals were not in the best shape, he does not believe they were not anywhere close to the condition that the veterinarian, Kim Brummond, said they were in.