This will be quite a read but here it goes, I need to know what my rights are in terms of police seizing my property. In this case 8 horses. On June 9th, 2012, there were 4 horses dropped off at my property (one was for training, the other three were to train and resell). Each one had a disease known as strangles, which is highly contagious between horses. These four then gave it to my three personal horses and my whole herd got thin from it. Then I got weight on them, and the strangles mutated and went through them all again. This time they got scary thin and I had the cops called on me from people who saw them from the road. The Sheriff came out once, I asked him if he wanted to look at my horses, and he said no and left.
After this Sheriff came out, a detective and cops came out to my property several times while I was not home and they did not leave any notices or anything that said that they were out here. In late August, I was in town with my husband and my mother in law called my husband and said that the police were on the property looking at the horses. When we pulled up, I was greeted by a detective, a Sheriff and a vet. They went on to tell me how thin my horses were and how they needed to be fed and watered and have shelter and that if they came out again, they would seize my animals and I would be charged with 7 counts of animal cruelty. They did not listen to what I had to say about these horses' history, much less what was wrong with them. The vet did not take any fecals, draw blood or even care to look under their jaws and notice the huge blister like puss filled gouges under them. Again, they did not have a search warrant or court
order to be out here.
Now I just had a filly pass due to a hoof abscess in February. She was down for a lengthy period of time because of this abscess (I was in Bismarck giving birth to our second son so I do not know for sure how long she was down). But when I came home, her leg was beyond swollen and there was no way she could get up. We went through a blizzard the next two days, and she passed in early morning the day the vet was going to come out. I had to have a necropsy performed on her for insurance purposes, and the vet that was doing the necropsy looked at me and said that she was "a little thin". I told the vet "no, shes been getting top quality hay and feed". (By "top quality, I mean the best stuff on the market for horses, which is Standlee Hay, at $15.00 a bale for a 50 pound bale.
Then on March 27th, the detective and sheriff that were out last August, came out and looked around (again with no search warrant) and the detective told me that the vet that had done the necropsy turned me in and said that I had starved that filly to death. So she went and made a few phone calls, came back and told me that she was going to seize them that day. She and the sheriff left, and a couple hours later were back with a truck and trailer and a vet and seized them. Once again, no warrant, no court order, and ALL (except for two, but they were in good shape too) my horses were seized. They were all healthy (except those two that were still gaining weight from the strangles that ended in December in them). They were all fit, sound, had excellent weight and had fresh water. They were fed by hand (we live on a dry lot) and one would think that they were owned by a professional horse person (which I am).
I asked the Sheriff if they could seize my horses with no warrant, and he told me yes.
I dont really know what to do here. I dont want to be in trouble for something I did not do, and I really dont want animal cruelty counts on my record because I am not cruel to animals. Never once starved or neglected any of them. And, I want at least two of these horses back. Any suggestions?