Minnesota Horse Council Member Facing Cruelty Charges

A member of the Minnesota Horse Council (MHC) board of directors is facing multiple animal cruelty charges for allegedly maltreating 16 horses on her property.

Keith Streff, investigator for the Minnesota Animal Humane Society, said that on Dec. 19, Carol Dobbelaire and her husband Rick Dobbelaire were charged with multiple animal cruelty counts including both felony and misdemeanor counts connected to the alleged maltreatment of horses on their Buffalo, Minn. property.

Streff said that the charges stem from anonymous complaints alleging that the horses on the property appeared to be thin.

"We've had received multiple anonymous complaints for years, and had tried to work with Carol Dobbelaire to reduce the size of the herd," Streff said. "Most recently we gave her and Rick the opportunity to work with the veterinarian of their choice or we would be forced to remove the horses."

Streff said that subsequently 16 of the 18 horses on the couple's property were removed to an unknown location. Two of the animals were euthanized due to their condition, he said.

Both Carol and Rick Dobbelaire were charged with 2 felony and 6 gross misdemeanor animal cruelty counts.

Carol Dobbelaire declined comment on the advice of her attorney.

Tracy Turner, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, president of the MHC, said that the pair were members of the organization, and that Carol Dobbelaire served on the group's board of directors. According to the MHC website, she also served on the organization's direct funding committee, which distributes funds derived from the Minnesota Horse Expo and other sources to various equine industry groups around the state. The charges against the Dobbelaires were unexpected, he said.

"We were shocked with regards to these new developments; our Board of Directors would have helped the Dobblelaires if asked," Turner said.

Turner said that while the case is pending, both Carol and Rich Dobbelaire remain members of the organization; however, as a result of the charges the pair were immediately relieved from any leadership roles. Specifically, Carol Dobbelaire was relieved of her position as a director of the organization and of her committee responsibilities, he said. If convicted, they pair will be banned from the MHC, Turner said.

"We take the humane care of horses very seriously and we took immediate action in regards to the Dobblelaires," Turner said.

A spokesperson for the Wright County Minnesota Attorney's Office said that the Dobbelaires are slated to appear in Wright County District Court on Jan. 23 in connection with the case.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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