A man accused of abusing more than 100 horses has pleaded not guilty to four misdemeanor charges in Burleigh County.
William Kiefer waived his initial appearance on the charge, which had been scheduled for Wednesday morning at the Burleigh County Courthouse. Defendants accused of misdemeanors can choose to have attorneys appear for them and to not appear at court proceedings. Kiefer pleaded not guilty by court document to four Class A misdemeanor counts of overworking, mistreating or abandoning animals.
Kiefer also has pleaded not guilty to five counts of Class A misdemeanor overworking, mistreating or abandoning animals in Morton County.
In late January, officials in Morton and Burleigh counties seized more than 150 horses and mules from properties owned by Kiefer after finding 96 dead animals on property northwest of New Salem and three dead on pasture east of Bismarck. Several other animals later died. Kiefer is accused in both the Burleigh County and Morton County cases of failing to provide necessary food, water and shelter to his animals.
According to a complaint in the Morton County case, one count of overworking, mistreating or abandoning animals is in response to a group of horses and mules found dead on a hilltop in the pasture northwest of New Salem, another count is for animals found dead in a barn and a third count is for dead animals in a Quonset and nearby trailer. A fourth count is for animals found dead in a hay yard, while the fifth count is for all the surviving animals.
Three of the charges in Burleigh County are for animals found dead on Kiefer's property, and the fourth charge is for the surviving animals.
The horses seized in Burleigh County all have been adopted, as have most of the horses from the Morton County case. The 16 horses in the worst shape from the Morton County case remain at Triple H Miniature Horse Rescue, where they are expected to continue recovering until they can be adopted this summer. Morton County sold 22 mules in early March, yielding $21,000. Any money remaining after the county covers all costs of the investigation and rescue will be returned to Kiefer, as required by law.
Kiefer is slated to appear in court on the Morton County charges on April 8 and on the Burleigh County charges on April 22.