East County horses hurt
Several animals' tails and manes sheared off at Grassy Trail Club
Over the past six months, Sunnyside's normally quiet Whitmore Canyon has come alive with the sound of terrorized horses. Local residents have reported animal cruelty in the form of shaved manes, tails and recently a horse was put down due to a broken jaw after slipping on the ice.
According to Grassy Trail Riding Club member Carla Palacios, the community has long enjoyed taking a "ride up the canyon" and seeing the horses in the corrals, as well as other wildlife in the area. And until recently the stables have been a safe haven for local equestrians.
Lately things have changed.
Palacios reported that over the past six months theft, along with animal cruelty, has become major issues in the small east county community.
"Theft of hay from the barns is getting worse and worse," said Palacios, in a letter offering a reward for conviction of those harassing the horses. "At first only a bale or two was taken, then gradually more and more. Recently nearly the entire barn was carried away and hay is getting harder to buy as well as more expensive. The theft is making it no easy task to ensure our horses are fed."
Palacios went on to report that her Palomino horse, Rocket, had more than three quarters of his tail sheered from his body.
"This was really upsetting for several reasons," said Palacios. "It puts limitations on the horse, anyone who has seen a horse in the summer knows they are an open target for flies, gnats and bees. Without their tail, a horse has no way to defend itself. Imagine a person trying to keep bugs off their face without arms."
According to Palacios, just as upsetting is the fact that someone has taken it upon themselves to trespass into the private corral and tamper with the horses.
"It has now become a skeptical proposition to trust leaving our animals in the canyon and knowing they are safe," said Palacios.
|Michelle Lewis's horse was found with a broken jaw at the Grassytrail Corrals. The horse had to be euthanized following the incident in Whitmore Canyon. |
Rocket is not the only horse to endure an attack at the corrals.
According to Michelle Lewis of East Carbon, when she and her husband, Louie Starzel, were going up to feed their horses on New Years Eve when she noticed that something was wrong with her mare's mane.
"It was really butchered, I did the best I could to even it out but it was horrible to see my horse like that" said Lewis. "A couple of days later we caught some people up there chasing the horses around the corrals and we warned them to stop, because there is a lot of ice up there making it easy for the horses to slip and fall."
Lewis reported that when her husband when up to feed the horses a couple of days later, her horse was suffering from a broken jaw.
"I know horses fall and they are fragile creatures, but I think my horse was attacked. I know he was chased until he fell and broke his jaw. It was just hanging there, he was in a lot of pain and there was nothing I could do to stop his suffering."
Lewis and her husband attempted to take the wounded animal to several veterinarians and it was deemed that the horse would have to be put down. "It was the hardest thing I have ever done," said Lewis. "That horse loved me and I loved that horse."
Local law enforcement is seriously looking into not only the animal cruelty complaints but the hay theft as well, as a barn full of hay can total lost assets ranging in the thousands.
"We are increasing patrols in that area," said East Carbon Police Chief Sammy Leonard. "But it is pretty far up there and we can't station an officer at the corrals."
Leonard also reported that they have no suspects at this time but are continuing to investigate the case thoroughly.
"We would like to involve the citizens in our quest to make our community a place that you can once again trust people and enjoy the simplicity that our quiet little town used to offer," said Palacios.
She requested that local residents and visitors to the area keep a lookout for anyone harassing the horses, littering at the corrals, painting graffiti in the area and starting fires in designated areas.
"Enough is enough. It is time to take our mountains, canyons and community back and put a stop to the deliberate destruction of an area we love," concluded Palacios.