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Police make arrest in case
La Grande doctor arrested in connection to Aug. 15 Glass Hill cattle killing
A La Grande doctor was charged with seven counts of aggravated animal abuse and first-degree criminal mischief in connection with cattle shootings earlier this month.
Joel D. Rice, 57, was arrested Thursday night following a two-week investigation by the Union County Sheriff’s Office into the shooting of seven cows on Glass Hill Road on Aug. 15.
Six cows died as a result, according to police.
Police say the dead cattle were discovered on Rice’s property.
Capt. Craig Ward with the sheriff’s office said on the day of the incident, Rice came home and the cattle were blocking his
“He was pretty upset about that,” Ward said.
The cows were shot with a rifle, police said.
Ward said the area was previously open range, but that Rice had led an effort to create a livestock district and make the land closed range. The cattle that were shot were trespassing on Rice’s property, Ward said.
“There is a remedy for that,” Ward said. “When animals are loose, the sheriff’s office and Department of Agriculture go out and investigate. Generally (livestock owners) are pretty good about getting their animals back home.”
Ward said the seven cows belonged to several different owners and that the loose animals had been a problem in the area for a while.
“Mr. Rice is fully cooperating with the investigation, which will be referred to the District Attorney’s Office,” Sheriff Boyd Rasmussen said.
Rice has been released on a pre-trial release agreement.
“We hit matrix,” the captain said. “He has no prior offenses, so his matrix score was extremely low.”
Rice is board certified in psychiatry and addiction medicine, according to his profile with Blue Mountain Associates and Grande Ronde Recovery.
The sheriff said deputies will continue the investigation with items seized at the residence.