by Lesley Scott
We have no idea how many ponies and other livestock are tied up hidden and abused.
|Do They Still Hang Horse Thieves?j
My husband, Karl, and I arrived home at midnight from a cookout at Paula and David’s lovely cedar log cabin, we both felt pretty good. But that good feeling promptly wore off quickly when we saw the loose pony, trying to get into our pasture. She belonged to the cruel man who lived behind us at the end of the back pasture, in rural Whitakers, NC.
I had been trying to rescue her through legal channels when I first saw her tied up in mud, with no food, shelter or water. I contacted the police and animal control. “We only deal with stray dogs,” said the shelter and the police, my first call, told me to call the shelter. I have dealt with this type of problem plenty of times when I lived in South Carolina, I knew what I had to do.
We had a hard time approaching the poor little black mare with the broken rope around her neck, I could tell she had never known kindness. Finally caught, we led her through the gate, around the barn, and herded her into a nice big stall with fresh water and lots of hay. Giving her grain at this time, would surely cause her to colic and probably die. Grain would be introduced in portions.
Karl turned on the lights, and we both became speechless when we saw in horror the whole story of neglect, starvation and beatings this mare had withstood for quite some time. We had no one to turn to but ourselves for help. Her coat, dull and lifeless, had patches of hair missing and her hips revealed pressure sores. She probably would have died within a few days in this heart-breaking condition. The poor little pony, weak and wobbly from starving, munched on the hay and we didn't give her a lot of water at first. Drinking too much too fast can also kill many equines. I didn't take the chance. I had been there before, rescuing neglected and abused livestock was something I have been doing for a number of years.
Blackie, we called her, with infected rope burns around her neck, also had dried blood on her hocks and neck and raised sores from being beated with a stick or other object. The black pony looked rusty, since she had been in the sun without shelter, stood in front of the stall, so frail and thin that every bone in her body was visible. She already had developed potential serious pressure sores, where the bones started poking though her hips. An animal in this neglected condition doesn't usually survive long once the starvation was this serious.
“Well, we have her hidden away in the dark. I think we can smuggle her out of here and take her to Paula and David's house. They live far enough away and have the perfect place to hide her for a few days. I’ll think of something else later,” I said to Karl. I could hear Blackie munching her hay with enthusiasm.
Paula and David agreed to let us keep Blackie there until we found her a home. We couldn’t let that horrible man try to have us arrested for stealing his pony. He should be prosecuted as the real criminal; we just rescued the pony and saved her sad life. The police already proved that the cruelty case wasn’t their problem. Stolen items were their problem, however. I felt we had done the right thing at the time.
My friend, Jeannie, had a new owner in mind. “Mr. Sauls wants a pony to keep his horse company in a large green pasture. I can vouch for him. He’s perfect. I’ll give him a call right now,” she said. Wouldn't that be wonderful? No one would ever starve or beat her again.
Calling back in ten minutes, Jeannie sounded excited, "Mr. Sauls said he’d pick her up at Paula and David’s house." So off we went, to give a neglected, stolen pony a new life. I felt thrilled that she was going to such a great place. I wondered if the creep who abused Blackie had even bothered to look for her.
When we arrived at Mr. Saul's place with little Blackie, I felt tears in my eyes and couldn’t speak. The farm was perfect with lush rolling hills of pasture and plenty of oak trees for shade. It made our nice farm look like “Tobacco Road.” Blackie backed out of the trailer as fast as she could. She and the gelding took to each other right away. All four of us felt tears sting our eyes. It's not every day a situation like this one has a happy ending.
Mr. Sauls kept in touch with us and we visited Blackie when she became shiny and sleek. We felt wonderful to see her in a good home, especially knowing what her fate could have been, back in Whitakers. I couldn't get over how much Blackie's apparence changed from the scruffy starving pony we found months earlier.
Almost one year to the day, Mr. Sauls called Jeannie with some troubling news. He had a heart attack and had to sell his gelding and Blackie. He assured us the new owners were good friends of his and they had no plans to ever sell her. Jeannie and I managed to visit the new owner a couple of times. The gentleman and his sweet wife had a wonderful pasture full of goats, a donkey, Blackie and Mr. Saul's gelding.
At first, we were concerned about Mr. Sauls’ heart attack, but he said that after his triple by-pass, he would be fine. Then he did something completely surprising. He gave each of us a hundred dollar bill. He wouldn’t think of us giving the money back. "Oh well," said Jeannie, "It is only a compensation for what we have already spent on Blackie."
Does that make me a horse thief? After all of the ponies and horses I’ve "saved" over the years, I didn’t care about the risk. Just hang me.
Word Count: 1009