UPDATE: Man has been charged for animal torture in Becker County
UPDATE: Michael Erwin Dahl has been charged with 3 counts of overworking and mistreating animals which is a felony offense.
On January 24th, the White Earth Police Department was contacted about three dead horses that were located on a property near Strawberry Lake Store, in Becker County Minnesota.
A woman said she left her horse in the case of Dahl when she left the country. At that time, Dahl also had two horses of his own on the property. The woman said she would wire money to Dahl to buy hay for the horses and had been communicating with him about the welfare of the horses through text messages.
On January 30th Dr. R.E. Lindemann of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health went to the property and found the three horses. Dr. Lindemann determined that the horses had lost significant body condition, that there was little or no feed available to them and that there was evidence that their nutritional needs were not being met. Dr. Lindemann concluded that hypothermia and starvation may have contributed to the death of the three horses.
ORIGINAL: A disturbing image of three dead horses lying on the side of the road has caused quite the controversy on social media and in a Minnesota community. Multiple viewers reached out to our Whistleblower Hotline saying the caretaker of the animals allegedly starved them and they want to know why he can get away with it.
Becker County Attorney Tammy Merkins is reviewing alleged cases of animal abuse against Michael Dahl. But many people we spoke to say he deserves to be charged and held accountable.
"I want to make people aware and hold him accountable," said Brandon Bloom of Pine Point, which is located on the White Earth Reservation.
Bloom said he didn't fully believe what he saw on his way to work Thursday. He noticed three dead horses on the side of Becker County Road 143.
"So I turned around and drove by to just double check what I saw and there was three horses, they looked pretty bad, they look like they've been starved for three months," said Bloom.
Others nearby, say two of the horses had owners who paid Dahl to take care of them. One horse was allegedly a descendent from a Triple Crown Winner.
Bloom says the animal’s bones were showing and he posted the pictures to social media.
"After I rode by and seen them first hand I got angry about it," explained Bloom.
The property owner who didn't want his name identified told Valley News Live that Dahl was renting the house and land and he was not a good tenant. The landowner was told by the Humane Society he was now responsible for the horses and to put the carcasses on the side of the road for a disposal company to pick up on Wednesday. The company did not pick them up until Thursday. The owner added he hasn't seen Dahl in a while and told him last fall to put the horses in another grass field pasture.
"I don't think they were properly taken care of, I know he had the funds available but didn't use" stated Bloom.
Not only was this upsetting for people who drove by but for others who raise horses around White Earth. People tell Valley News Live they take pride in their animals and this is not a reflection of how they treat their horses.
Michael Dahl taught Ojibwe in the Detroit Lakes School District but resigned recently according to the district. They would not say why he resigned and told Valley News Live to ask Dahl if the reason was regarding the horses.