Minnesota man charged with letting four horses starve to death
MANKATO, Minn. - A southern Minnesota man accused of allowing two 9-month-old foals and two older horses to starve to death late last year and early this year has been charged with four felony counts of animal cruelty.
The dead horses were discovered on Russell Dean Peters’ property just north of Good Thunder on March 14. Two Blue Earth County sheriff’s deputies had been sent to the property after neighbors complained about the smell of something rotting.
Peters, 58, initially told the deputy the foals had quit eating after being dewormed by a veterinarian in January, but he couldn’t name the veterinarian nor the clinic. He said the foals stopped eating after the visit and eventually starved to death, according to the criminal complaint filed in Blue Earth County District Court.
When Peters brought the deputies out to one of his barns, the two foals were lying dead on the floor with no hay or water in their stall, the complaint said.
One of the deputies reported seeing an area where the foals appeared to have attempted to chew a hole through the stall to get to some hay. The deputy also reported there was horse feces in feed buckets, the feed bags in the barn looked old, and all of the hay was in full bales.
Peters told the deputies the foals were born in May 2013 and had died in January or February, the complaint said. After the deputies asked questions about the quality of the feed and the bales of hay, Peters also allegedly said he was having financial problems, his health was poor, and it had been difficult for him to get out to the barns during the winter.
Peters’ telephone is disconnected and he did not answer the door at his residence Thursday.
The deputies also reported finding two older horses dead in another barn on Peters’ property. That barn was checked after Peters told the deputies he had sold the two horses in the fall.
"The animals were very skinny and looked to have been lying there for quite some time," the complaint said. "Peters then went on to explain again about his financial situation and his health problems."
Peters said one of the horses was 5 years old and the other was 11 years old, the complaint said. The complaints about the smell of an animal being dead and rotting were made in the late summer and fall of 2013.
Peters is scheduled to make his first court appearance for the felony charges and four misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty on Aug. 7.