A clearer picture has begun to emerge in the case of a North Dakota woman who is accused of the starving death of eight horses. As reported by Inforum on Jan. 21, neighbors had warned law enforcement as early as four months prior to the deaths of the horses that animals kept getting out of their pastures and no food was available on their own property.
On Jan. 9 Ginger Helland, 29, was charged with animal neglect and mistreatment and unlawful disposition of dead animals in Barnes County District Court. The neglect and mistreatment charges are Class A misdemeanors, and unlawful disposition of dead animals is considered an infraction.
Both Ginger Helland and her husband Karl Helland were also charged in Barnes County District Court two other times. They are accused of permitting their livestock to run loose on Sept. 17 and again on Nov. 12. Both times, the charges were Class B misdemeanors.
Law officials have been to the Helland property a number of times. The first time Barnes County deputies went to the property on Aug. 31 after Helland animals were on the Ricky and Larinda Velure farm. In subsequent interviews with the Velures and other neighboring residents, the Helland cattle got out frequently throughout the summer and the animals were getting their food from neighbors’ land since there was nothing to eat at their own farm and they were desperate for food.
The Velures encountered estimated damage of $19,300.
Barnes County once again received a complaint on Oct. 12 that the Hellands’ cows were out again. This time the Velures discovered a dead cow in their field. In addition, they reported that a herd of cattle was in the neighbor’s soybean field one week earlier. The very next day, Velure again called to say the cows were in the alfalfa and had to be herded home by Helland.
Over the next two weeks, three other neighbors called Barnes County deputies complaining about the Hellands’ cows in soybean, corn and in Clausen Springs Park. By Christmas day, a dead horse was seen in the Helland’s pasture.
Not more than five days later, Julie Martin called Sheriff’s Office saying 15 horses were out through the fence from the Hellands’. The remaining three were apparently too sick to leave.
Anderson brought veterinarian Andrew Peterson from Enderlin to the Hellands’ where they found four other dead horses. Again there was no food. Two of the horses had died less than 24 hours earlier, according to Peterson’s estimate.
After authorities obtained a search warrant, they found yet another horse, a young foal.