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Vergas couple charged in horse deaths

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Bill and Penny Fick, the owners of six horses found dead in rural Vergas in February, have each been charged with 21 counts of animal mistreatment in Otter Tail County District Court.

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After failing to appear at a court hearing May 6, a warrant was issued for their arrests, and the Ficks had their first court appearance last week.

Penny Fick’s son, Billy Tomkins, was previously charged in the case.

Bill Karl Fick, 47, and Penny Lynn Fick, 38, were each charged with one felony count, one gross misdemeanor count and 19 misdemeanor counts of mistreatment of animals.

During a search of the property in February, the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office and state Humane Society found six dead horses. Authorities said 11 horses were found alive but in poor condition due to malnutrition and dehydration. A water tank was allegedly found frozen, and no food source was available.

The surviving horses, along with two adult llamas and one juvenile llama, were seized and rescued. They were taken to High Tail Horse Ranch and Rescue near Hawley.

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