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Published December 20, 2012, 10:45 AM

Minnesota horse owner charged with animal cruelty

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A member of a Minnesota horse industry group has been charged with felony animal cruelty for allegedly failing to provide enough food or water for her 16 horses.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A member of a Minnesota horse industry group has been charged with felony animal cruelty for allegedly failing to provide enough food or water for her 16 horses.

Carol Dobbelaire, 63, of Buffalo, was suspended Wednesday from the Minnesota Horse Council, an umbrella group for the state's equine industry, the Star Tribune reported Thursday. The council's president, Dr. Tracy Turner, said Dobbelaire, who served five years as a director, will be banned from the organization if she's convicted on any count.

Dobbelaire was charged with two felony counts and six misdemeanors. Her husband Rick Dobbelaire, 47, also was charged. Court documents allege that some of their horses were so hungry they had begun eating away at the walls of their barn, possibly consuming the fiberglass insulation. Two were so emaciated they had to be killed.

Dobbelaire told authorities that she and her husband were struggling financially to feed their horses. But Turner pointed out that Dobbelaire chaired a council fund that provides hay for horse owners who need it.

Carol Dobbelaire told the newspaper the couple has operated a refuge for neglected horses for years and often had thin horses they have been unable to fatten up. She said she would fight the charges.

Another group, the Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition, launched a "hay bank" this week to distribute hay to horse owners in need.

A ton of hay costs $220, nearly double the $120 it cost a year ago, said Krishona Martinson, equine extension specialist for the University of Minnesota. Hay supplies are tight this year because of the drought and because it's more profitable for farmers for many farmers in the region to grow corn and soybeans.

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