BILLINGS — On Wednesday in the Stillwater County Courthouse in Columbus, testimony was rehashed about a rancher who was alleged to have committed animal cruelty to his herd of cows and calves and is now asking the court to get the herd back.
Coming up next week on Aug. 2, Judge Olivia Rieger will decide whether a herd of 268 cows and 189 calves will go back with their original owners: William Myers and Jack Myers.
Jack Myers faces three felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty, according to court documents.
Earlier this year in May, the herd was seized from the Triple Tree Ranch near Rapelje by deputies with the Stillwater County Sheriff's Office. Some of the herd was severely malnourished, according to testimony.
"Compared to what they were, anybody in the world would say that's the best thing that ever happened to those cows. There is nothing detrimental that has happened to those cows. We saved their life. Just as much as taking an abused child out of an abused home," said Dr. Daniel Roe, a state-licensed veterinarian who responded to the ranch originally with authorities.
Court documents allege the cows were in pasture that didn't have enough grass to sustain them and other cows in a corral were eating manure to eat out what little grass there was left.
Roe testified that there was plenty of hay for a portion of the herd located in a pen, but the hay was just out of the cow's reach beyond the fence. Roe said his observation about the hay was why William and Jack Myers should have their herd taken away.
"It still goes back to the stacks of hay for me. That shows neglect, non caring, and complete disregard for an animal's life," Roe said.
Jack Myers wasn't called for questioning, but William was.
He testified the herd was about to be moved to greener pastures that William either leased or owned. Now that the herd's been in the hands of the state for so long, William said he lost a lease on pasture in West Yellowstone that he's kept for 22 years because of the herd's seizure. He also said he would sell the herd if they came back into his possession, because they've missed the window to have calves.