by Angela Kirby
The Fourth of July is a time for Americans to celebrate Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, but Sarah Schwenzer was not excited about the holiday this year. Happiness was the last emotion she expected to feel since she had received a heartbreaking call the day before. The manager of her boarding barn had called with the worst news possible: her horse, Odie, a large grey appaloosa gelding, had been stolen from his pasture.
Two halters and leadropes were missing from the pasture fence, but only Odie was missing from the herd of more than a dozen animals. It has been presumed from the time the theft was discovered that the thief intended to target two horses since both halters and leads were missing. Yet Odie was the only horse stolen most likely because his pasturemate is skittish.
From disbelief to devastation, Sarah quickly ran through the gamut of emotions victim of horse theft feel, and then she took action.
A friend quickly told her about Stolen Horse International, Inc., commonly known as NetPosse, and after filing a report with the organization; Odie’s information was quickly processed by Debi Metcalfe, founder of the nonprofit, and posted publicly. Aside from the standard report listed on NetPosse.com, a custom flyer and alert were created and disseminated to NetPosse volunteers, news mediums and social media via the established NetPosse.com Alert system, the horse community’s Amber Alert.
A lead generated on July 4th set about a quick chain reaction of phone calls to Sarah, law enforcement and NetPosse. Authorities immediately took action and tracked down Odie’s whereabouts at a remote fenced area, known by authorities from previous interactions. It was there that a horse matching Odie’s description was found and secured.
But that’s where the situation becomes complicated, and once Sarah was on the scene, she could only stare helplessly from across the road at her missing horse.
When the Metcalfes received a call from Sarah that Odie had been found, they agreed to travel to the location. It is not often they are able to physically assist in a recovery, but something told them that Sarah would need their help. Knowing that the horse had a microchip, they grabbed a scanner before jumping in their van and driving an hour and a half to reach Sarah.
Upon their arrival, law enforcement stated that Sarah was not allowed to cross private property, but instead the Metcalfes were asked to accompany the officer in order to positively identify the appaloosa.
Although there was little doubt as to this horse being Odie, the officer wanted there to be no doubt. Within a few moments, Harold waved the scanner over the microchip location on the left side of the horse’s neck, the officer read the number, and the horse was identified as Odie.
Unfortunately, there was little time to rejoice as Odie had to be loaded into a trailer and hauled immediately to a veterinarian hospital in a nearby city.
While those hours that Odie was missing drug on agonizingly slow for Sarah, the thief or thieves moved quickly. It is too soon to answer all of the questions as to what immediately happened to this beautiful animal, and no arrests have been made as of yet. However, Odie’s back legs were noticeably swollen and his hooves greatly worn: an indication, along with the witness’ statement (yet to be confirmed) that he was possibly ridden fifteen miles before being loaded into an air conditioned utility trailer.
Although an investigation is ongoing, this could be another theft where there are more questions than answers. The good news is that at least Sarah had a reason to celebrate the 4th of July, knowing that Odie is again safe and back in her loving care.
More about Debi Metcalfe author of "Horse Theft, Been There Done That"
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