Friday, July 1, 2011


Majestic, muscled wild horses just four months ago, these intelligent, formerly self-reliant animals are treated like inanimate trash by Michigan Prosecutor Fred Anderson

as he forces them to remain in the control of the person who starved them.
Photo by Jonathan Gruenke/Gazette
 Meet Romeo the day of his capture in September 2010/BLM photo in public domain
Romeo on 6/8/11 after 4 months with Wendy Bierling, 
and under Sheriff's Dept. monitoring for 2 1/2 weeks. 
Has he been wearing this drag line for four months? 
These horses should be under the conservatorship of the Michigan Horse 
Welfare Coalition's experienced horsepeople, not the Allegan Sheriff's Department.
               (Romeo's ID is courtesy of Where the Wild Horses Are   (visit for well documented before-and-after photos of other Twin Peaks horses in Michigan hell. — Can you tell I'm not okay with this?)
Conrad Burns, R-Montana
               If you are new to this blog, please visit my previous blog post at this link for the background on these Twin Peaks horses.

               BLM's policy of selling *sale authority horses en masse very cheap, thanks to the Burns Amendment of 2005, is the proximate cause  (legalese for "primary cause") for these abused horses' situation.  So although these Twin Peaks/ Michigan horses have riveted our attention, we can rest agitated that this goes on all the time, and worse.  
               Even some good people in the BLM were griefstricken when this law was passed because they understood that it makes it easy for profiteers to purchase these horses for any number of unwholesome purposes and that many horses would certainly be doomed to hellish ends because of it.  Senator Conrad Burns, a Montana rancher and anti-wild horse legislator, slipped his "rider" in late at night when our legislature was trying to conclude its business to go on break, and no one even realized it was attached to a bill that everyone already knew was going to pass.  It was slick, below-the-belt political maneuvering, but legal.  And the horses, as is historically always the case, are the ones who pay the price.
                 BTW:  Former Montana Senator Burns received substantial contributions from admitted felon and former super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.  Burns received $137,000 in campaign contributions and PAC contributions from Abramoff, his lobbying firm and his Indian clients from 2000 to 2002. These donors contributed 42 percent of the total money received by Burns’ soft-money political action committee over the period. [Washington Post, 3/1/2005] He may still be indicted for taking bribes from convicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramhof.
(Source:  PublicCitizen "Hall of Shame")

*SALE AUTHORITY horse:  a horse age 10 or older; or, a younger horse who's been offered at three "adoption" events, including online, but has not been "adopted."

               I do know, however, that Wendi Bierling was frustrated in November 2010 because sale authority horses or not, BLM was requiring her to meet certain specifications, and she felt they were giving her a hard time.   Way to go, BLM.  Ms. Bierling contacted the advocate community looking for support in getting her load of sale authority horses from BLM. Personally, I was not comfortable with her or her plan and did not respond.  Several  BLM officials have told me they were uncomfortable with it at the time, and a top ranking official feels what she has done is "despicable" because "she let things go too long before asking for help."
               I encourage readers who are disturbed at Prosecutor Anderson's inaction to express your feelings to Allegan Prosecutor Fred Anderson, Allegan Sheriff's Dept. Lt. Baker, Animal Control, and to the Fox News team who covered this story at:,,,,
Commander, proud, seasoned 25-year-old band stallion 
safe at Return to Freedom
Michigan Horse Welfare Coalition: No Celebrating for Michigan Mustangs this Holiday Weekend
For Immediate Release
June 30, 2011 – The Michigan Horse Welfare Coalition (MHWC) wishes to express extreme disappointment with the decision by the Allegan County Prosecutor’s office today not to pursue any animal cruelty charges in the case of 25 wild Mustangs owned by Wendy Bierling in Allegan. The prosecuting attorney’s decision comes despite investigating officer Sgt. Kuhn’s recommendation of 16 counts of animal cruelty.

During a May 22nd visit to Bierling’s farm, MHWC representatives witnessed what they felt to be a clear-cut case of animal neglect under the definition of Michigan’s anti-cruelty statute, and contacted Allegan County law enforcement to express their concern for the horses’ welfare. MCL 750.50 requires that animals receive adequate care, defined as “sufficient food, water, shelter, sanitary conditions, exercise and veterinary medical attention in order to maintain an animal in a state good health.”  The statute further defines “neglect” as failure to “sufficiently and properly care for an animal to the extent that the animal’s health is jeopardized.”

The visit from MHWC representatives was a standard site inspection upon receiving Bierling’s application for assistance through the coalition’s Hay Bank. The request was for hay to feed 25 of the original 29 wild Mustangs shipped to Bierling in February of 2011 from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which had rounded up the horses in California the previous August. All of the Mustangs shipped to Bierling were over the age of eleven.  

After assisting with the removal of a horse that was later assessed a body condition score of one  – the lowest score a horse can have and still be alive -- the MHWC confirmed with  Bierling’s own veterinarian that Bierling had never requested his own assessment or treatment of that horse. 

The MHWC provide investigators with an abundance of evidence showing what they felt to be neglect, including photos, veterinarian reports, and multiple eyewitness reports – all showing that Bierling was allegedly not feeding the horses or providing veterinary care. 

“Whether the horses came off the truck sick or not, that was over four months ago.  The bottom line is, these horses weren’t getting enough to eat.  Any horse will starve if they do not have food, and sick horses will continue to decline without veterinary care.  That’s why these provisions are mandated by law.  But what good are laws if they’re not enforced?” says Jodi Louth, MHWC Hay Bank Coordinator. 

“By failing to address what appears to be a clear case of animal neglect, Allegan County is essentially condoning such neglect and even encouraging it to continue. There is absolutely nothing to prevent Wendi Bierling from receiving another shipment of 29 mustangs, and we just hope that Allegan County officials are prepared to deal with it when that happens,” continues Louth.

Jill Fritz, MHWC secretary, adds: “The neglect of any animal, including horses, is explicitly prohibited under Michigan's animal cruelty statute. Financial hardship or lack of knowledge about proper horse care is not an excuse to ignore the law.” She continued, “Michiganders care about animals and want those who neglect or abuse them to be held accountable. The Michigan Horse Welfare Coalition hopes that the Allegan County will join other county prosecuting attorneys who are aggressively pursuing charges against those who harm animals in our state.”

The MHWC and its Hay Bank were founded in January 2010 and has since helped to feed over 101 horses throughout Michigan.  

For more information, please visit  
High quality photos of the Mustangs available upon request.  
269/673-0280  Prosecuting Attorney Fred Anderson
5859 W. Saginaw Hwy, #273, LansingMI 48917  (517) 321-368

Response of Humane Observer Elyse Gardner to Michigan's failure to protect these horses
        ANNOUNCMENT THAT HE IS NOT FILING CHARGES           mailed to:,,,,,

To Prosecutor Fred Anderson and Other Respected Members of Our Public Trust,

I am profoundly disappointed in your handling of this matter involving Wendi Bierling and her obvious alleged criminal neglect of our Twin Peaks wild horses. It is difficult to comprehend the fear you all seem to have of taking action. The public trust suffers nearly as much as the horses when public officials see such egregious harm done and do nothing. This is very bad for public morale in these difficult times and results in young and old alike having no respect for the law, and, indeed, why should we? Michigan law requires the appropriate care, feed, housing, veterinary care, and general humane maintenance of animals, and the fact that Ms. Bierling never consulted her vet for a Hennecke Score 1 horse who was perfectly sound upon arrival tells us she was not providing anything close to this legal standard.

I believe your inaction may actually constitute actionable offenses under Michigan statute since you know more abuse is about to continue and turn a blind eye. Your failure to act will now cause direct suffering to at least 6 of these animals since Ms. Bierling plans to sell them to a Florida man, thereby subjecting them to an arduously long trip reliable sources say they are not yet ready to endure, only to arrive in a state known to have a penchant for horseflesh, illegal in the U.S. but practiced in Florida nonetheless.

I address also the blatant untruths told by the Prosecutor in his recent announcement stating Michigan authorities will continue to monitor these horses. I know Mr. Anderson has knowledge of Ms. Bierling's plans to sell these horses out of state on Saturday, July 2, yet he announced to the press that authorities will continue to monitor the horses. Really? I presume he meant for the next 48 hours. He has not returned either of my two calls although I informed him I was writing an article and would be glad to hear his perspective.

I hope the immorality of your inaction, as well as the illegality of it, strikes at your hearts, and perhaps in a fit of conscience, patriotism, compassion, and respect for the oaths of office you have taken will result in action that will protect these animals, and you will reconsider your decision promptly, and take action which will prevent the transfer of these animals beyond the protective reach of anyone who truly cares for them.

Very truly yours,

Elyse Gardner
Humane Advocate Observer 
Twin Peaks stallion with affectionate, playful son wanting attention
I received a copy of this terrific letter written by an advocate in Colorado and felt it should be included here because being a native of Switzerland, which has tremendous animal protection laws in place, she suggests positive measures Allegan, Michigan, and all of the United States can and should take to prevent recurrences of this nightmare for these depleted Twin Peaks wild horses. Here it is:

To Prosecutor Fred Anderson and Other Members of Our Public Trust
RE: Wendi Bierling / severely neglected horses in Michigan
I amongst thousands of others across the nation are extremely dismayed at the inaction of Michigan Prosecutor Fred Anderson. Please read on.

         Since the way a DA works is to prosecute only cases they can easily win with the least expenditure of funds -  in other words at election time, the DA must show a high number of convictions - one would think this case clearly calls for your duty to act, lucidly reflecting severe neglect, un-American and not tolerated by anyone with a conscience.

         This case could set the precedent to improve the much needed animal welfare laws in your area. It is very regretful that it always takes an animal to suffer extremely before any laws are changed. And the wheel of bureaucracy often is obscuring a simple outline of strict and applicable standards to protect animals from neglect and abuse, which is appalling.  Animals deserve to fall under the governance of strict protection laws, specially in a modern society such as America. Yet, the lack of protection pertaining to such laws is a pity. I often wonder why this country is so behind when it comes to protecting the innocent and helpless. Where I grew up, in Switzerland, they have now some of the best animal protection laws in the world, a very thorough 160–page animal protection law.  It governs everything from how much space owners must give their gerbils, to the water temperature for frogs.  It outlines that social animals such as pigs and birds must have companions and that horses and cows get regular exercise.  It even requires guardians of dogs to take a training course on how to care for their pets.  And of course the law also forbids cruelty and abuse. What that reflects is a high standards of education on animals, so people know more on the ownership and needs of said animals. 

           Animal abuse is a serious problem and recent occurrences have highlighted the need for examining this issue more closely to determine new strategies for preventing abuse and handling abuse cases. For this reason, your county ought to establish an Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force comprised of city officials, Animal Control, animal volunteer groups and the public to devise methods to better prevent and prosecute animal abuse, such as the case of Wendi Bierling. The Task Force could convene on a monthly basis and is responsible for making recommendations to the Mayor about ways to prevent the mistreatment of animals, and eradicate animal abuse altogether. Members could also be charged with developing additional recommendations regarding:

           • Legislation that will protect animals and prosecute abusers,
            The training of law enforcement officials on how to handle animal cruelty cases humanely and to ensure how to acquire the best evidence to prosecute animal abusers,
           • Methods of increasing awareness of animal cruelty laws, 
           • Necessary steps to foster improved response to incidents of animal cruelty
           • Methods of improving training for Animal Control Officers for their protection as well as the animals.

           You could be optimistic that the efforts of this Task Force will help improve the tools available to law enforcement and prosecutors for handling these types of cases.  I ask that you consider the case of Bierling to be severe enough for you to act now - before history repeats itself again.
Monika Courtney,
Evergreen, CO

Thank you for speaking out for these horses.