NEW INFORMATION: Woman charged after dead horses found at Dunn County farm

By: Joe Nelson Email
By: Joe Nelson Email
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DUNN COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU)--A Dunn County woman accused of neglecting to feed about 25 horses, leaving four dead, is now charged. 74-year-old Darleen Freiheit faces 11 counts of mistreating animals.

According to the criminal complaint, when deputies went to the farm in the Town of Sheridan, which is north of Boyceville, they found several dead horses and some that were so skinny, their rib cage was showing.

The complaint says Freiheit told investigators she had problems with the people who were providing hay for the animals and said that she wished she could take better care of the horses.

We tried contacting the Dunn County Sheriff for an update on where the horses are now, but have not heard back.


DUNN COUNTY, Wisc. (WEAU) - A northern Dunn County woman could face criminal charges for neglecting to feed about 25 horses, leaving four dead.

Dunn County Sheriff Dennis Smith said besides the four that were found dead, about a dozen seemed to be malnourished. He said the owner, who he wouldn't yet identify, was unsure whether she'd allow them to leave, but that her son could take many of them if they pass a health test, allowing them to be moved.

“She wants to be in control of them but I want them to be gone or sold or whatever, so that she doesn't have them anymore,” Smith said.

Diane Thompson said she was concerned after seeing about two dozen horses in poor shape near her northern Dunn county home.

“I don't think any animal deserves to be treated like that,” Thompson said. “A couple weeks ago, we noticed that they really got bad.”

“You could tell they were not going to make it very long. And I found out afterwards that them two had died (at that time).”

“I think they were not fed enough,” Smith said.

Thompson said after she contacted the Dunn County Sheriff's Office and the Humane Society, officers started investigating.

“We're trying to get this done and I’m getting to the point where I’m waiting to see if we're going to get a court order where we can just take them and there's no choice about it,” Smith said.

Smith said he's waiting to hear from the district attorney on whether the owner will face criminal charges, and that it's a problem he's seen before.

“I've had animals my whole life. I have horses, and I feel terrible that this happens,” Smith said.

“I'm definitely glad they might be saved,” Thompson said.

“With the price of hay, horses are just worth nothing and most people don't want them because they don't want to buy the hay for them. But we're hoping they go to good homes,” Smith said.

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