Michael Feist must downsize his herd to 50 horses by the end of the year. Photo November 2014
A Wisconsin ranch owner convicted of almost three dozen counts of animal cruelty is headed to jail. Michael Allen Feist is scheduled to begin his one-year jail sentence next month.
In March, a jury found Feist guilty of 34 counts that included the intentional mistreatment and failure to provide sustenance to animals. Four felony counts represented horses found dead on the ranch during the Polk County Sheriff Department’s 2013 investigation. Officials received a tip regarding undernourished horses on the property owned by Feist and his chiropractor wife, Dr. Brenda Weierke.
Feist maintained his herd of about 80 horses through the criminal proceedings, which angered some in the equine community. They rallied to have the horses seized from Otter Creek Ranch, although officials never removed the horses from the property.
The one-time Appaloosa breeder now advertises trail rides, horse training services, and horseback riding lessons to the public. Otter Creek Ranch also offers a petting zoo.
Prior to Feist’s sentencing, his attorney’s motion for a new trial was denied by the court.
Feist has until the end of the year to reduce his farm’s population by 30 horses. On January 2, 2016, Feist must report to jail to begin serving his jail sentence. He may eligible for a work release program after six months. The farm’s animals will be under veterinary supervision twice a month.
Feist must also serve probation and pay fines and costs totaling just over $3,000. As a felon, Feist cannot possess a firearm. If he violates any conditions of his sentence, he may be required to serve more than 11 years behind bars or reduce his herd of 50 horses further.
Feist also has a criminal record in Minnesota.