A victim'S story: Many of us helped in different ways with the recent search for the missing horse, Duke. It was first thought that he 'just' got out. The owner had reasons to suspect that he didn't get out on his own as time passed. Law enforcement became involved as the missing horse was turned into a criminal theft situation.
How does it feel to wake up to find your horse is gone? What do you do first, second, and from then on until you find the horse? This story will help you understand this victim and many who have similar nightmares.
Now for the rest of the story...
Ok, here's the update on Duke. I'm sure I'll leave something out.
On Friday morning, we got a call from officer Sutter from AC that Duke was spotted. Two Animal Control (AC) officers were out there with eyes on Duke at 7:58 am.
The area he was in was an area first searched; it was as the crow flies one mile from the house on the other side of the creek ( which Duke would not have crossed).
We looked for days in that area. The next morning after we posted on Facebook, we had a case file, dropped flyers around the community with the case number, and talked with people.
Then DUKE just happened to be spotted in a field the next day. The stretch on Central Hill is a little neighborhood, and he was in the yards.
Once AC and Bruce( hubby) walk towards Duke, he walks away from Bruce, not once but twice. After feeding all the animals I get out there, I get out there, and he, too, starts walking away.
Now there are four of us at different points of the field. He starts running away from us. I had his bucket of feed, and I was shaking it so he could hear the feed, but he was acting like he was afraid of EVERYONE! Duke would always greet people to see what treats they bring. He has never run away from Bruce or me.
We went from the field to a wooded path, then back to the field down to the back of a house through a yard, then started running down RT 620, where traffic speeds by fast, and lots of trucks use that route.
Thank God Gary got his four-wheeler in front of Duke so he could warn oncoming traffic to slow down till Duke ducked off into another field. I'm thankful he made a right turn, so he was on the side we needed him on to get him to head towards home.
There were five of us in the field he turned into, and he still would not stop moving away from people. We were scattered so as not to make him feel trapped. Gary got close, but Duke took off through the woods.
Now, mind you, we've been chasing Duke in areas we had ridden in before as we searched for him!
Finally, we return to where the trucks are parked and head back to Central Hill, where Gary has him headed. Gary is staying close to Duke, where he ends up on Ting Street, returning to Central Hill and one street down from our road.
Duke then turns off Ting Street down the power lines and crosses a small ditch. He but would not cross the big ditch! He finally got Duke on a path heading back to Tings Street. We drive there and spot them coming down the path. We block the path and open both doors to secure the area more.
Now by this time, it's been four hours and 12 miles that officer Sutter and Bruce walked, according to her pedometer. I figured Duke ran and walked over 20 miles.
By the time Gary (slowly behind) and Duke got close to us, you could tell he had finally run out of gas. His legs were shaking, and he was about to bolt past us, but we got in front of him and got the lead rope around his neck till we could get the halter on.
In the meantime, we were slowly hand-feeding him some food. So we all are excited to get him caught finally. At first, he's pulling on the lead rope to get away, but with a few tugs and touches, he stops resisting and stands there.
We wanted him to catch his breath, and so did Bruce and Officer Sutter, who did most of the walking. We finally caught him but had another 2-mile walk if you cut through a field to get back to Central Hill from Tings Street.
Once everyone drank water, Officer Sutter finally got in her vehicle and could sit for a second or two. We hugged and thanked everyone for their help and made new friends.
When Bruce and Duke walked through the field for a straight shot to Central Hill, I came up behind them, and Bruce jumped on the tailgate while Duke followed.
Gary was behind me, and UPS was behind him when delivering to our house. He put his flashers on, too, because he knew about Duke, and so did our mail lady. So for one mile, it was just us on the road. Thank God for that; no traffic.
So after ten long days of worrying, crying, and being determined to find Duke, I am convinced he was stolen.
When this went viral, this hunt for Duke, and the word got out, and he now has a criminal case file, I think the thieves knew their poop was loose.
We think we know who had Duke, but I can't prove it. We told Sutter our suspicions about two places, and she got Suffolk AC to check them out.
Remember, I get a case file number the next day Duke is spotted. Now there are no coincidences. There are only situations that take place because of an action. Every action has a reaction and the intense energy of prayers; everything works out with God and Jesus Christ as my helpers.
I have a theory. I think the people who stole Duke dropped him off in the wee hours of Friday morning close enough to home. It's too obvious he was stolen, and when the poop is about to hit the fan, and we are closing in, Duke suddenly is in public and seen one mile from home?
We looked everywhere every day, calling out his name. Plus, there were not ten days of tracks where he was seen, nor did we see any poop. So I think that is a sign he had not been in the area for ten days!
He has been traumatized; he has three lacerations on his legs, and he lost about 40-50 pounds. His mane and tail were not full of debris as you would think of being in the woods for ten days.
I think his mouth seems sore. I have a call to the vet, and I'm hoping they will make it out tomorrow to give him a good checkout and blood test.
I wish I had had my camera ready when we walked Duke to the pasture, opened the gate, and walked him in.
Captain Morgan came up to him, so happy to see his friend. Duke's immediate reaction when he saw Morgan run towards him was to go into flight mode again, which makes me think he may have been penned with other horses that bullied him. Duke has never been an Alpha male. He's always been the gentle giant. It's like his memory of us was erased!
Finally, he stops and lets Morgan sniff him, and gets close. They walk off together. I'm sure Morgan was asking him all about his adventure! We allowed them to roam around the yard. But Duke still would not let Bruce walk up to him or me. He would walk away.
So we finally took him to the barn and saw if Duke was ready to eat( I fed him some when we caught him). He didn't take but maybe a bite or two. He was done. I brought him back outside and started the spa treatment with warm water, which included a sponge bath and massage.
His legs had finally stopped shaking. I could tell he was tired. Another thing that bothered me was he could walk into the arena from the pasture, which he usually doesn't do. He will on rare occasions because we let the grass grow in there. Well, he wasn't eating the grass.
He did something I never saw him do. He went to the fence that faces the road and a vast field we ride around in and stood there looking out across the field. He has never done that! This action may not seem odd to anyone, but it does to us.
Friday night after his spa treatment, he had time to wander around while we sat where he could see and hear us till dinner. I put his blanket on him to keep his muscles warm so he would feel secure.
It was a bit chilly Friday night. Before I went to bed, I came out to check on him, and he was standing at his back door looking out over the pasture.
He peed once but no poop, and almost ate all his food. I have been listening to his stomach to see if I could hear gurgling, which is a good sign if you do. Yesterday not too much sound. I'm guessing he wasn't eating because of stress or other horses kept him from food. That explains the weight loss.
I got him started on sand clear in case most of his food was with lots of dirt/ sand. So I have him in that for the next seven days. His mouth still seems sore, though. Not sure if that's from him eating nuts and soybeans from the fields where he was turned loose or if someone tried riding him with a bit that was not right for him. Perhaps they were just too hard in his mouth. I will find out more about that after the vet checks him out.
This morning's update! Duke had a poop and pee spot, plus he laid down and slept last night. I rub his legs down with lineament Friday and Saturday, so I'm sure that helped him, considering he ran his TWH fast walk for over 20 miles, which he hasn't done for a few years.
It's been a while since we did a weekend camping/ trail ride. I miss those fun days! I'll give him a week or so, and depending on what the vet finds out about his mouth, it's time to hit the trails again! The weather is nice and cool, and there are no pesky bugs that bite!
I'm so happy Duke is home, and we are making progress. He walked up to me three times yesterday on his own and did some walk-bys real close. Duke let me walk up to him, a big difference from Friday.
One thing I did notice when we got home Friday was that when I would try and walk up to him, he would walk away. I had a baseball hat on, as did everyone. I took my hat off, and then I could walk up to him!
So whoever took him must have worn a baseball hat. Plus, he didn't want anything to do with men! Duke never cared what you were. He wants to say hi and see what treats you brought him. His favorite is peppermints. I did post a few days back that I had brought peppermints, so I would have some when he came home!
This whole thing was an eye-opener for me and should be for everyone. Our country has gone nuts since the pandemic, which has changed the lives of every single person today. We can't take our lives for granted and must take more precautions to protect our family and home! That includes our horses and pets.
We now have cameras up! I'm going to also put one up in the barn. I'm still trying to find out who took Duke. I'm waiting for a friend who communicates with animals to talk with both Morgan and Duke before I can put closure to this ordeal. I want to bring someone to justice for what we went through and what Duke went through.
I got a good report from Bruce, and Duke is chowing down! So I'll watch him again today to see how his mouth is doing.
All my family and friends and newfound friends, I want to express my most profound appreciation for all your prayers. They work miracles!
So many wonderful people helped bring Duke home, which helped get the word out all over the USA! Stolen Horse International, also known as NetPosse, an incredible network of caring people about animals, helped!
My daughter Kat made sure she got a lot of flyers out at the peanut festival and posted them on her Facebook page, keeping Duke up front and in people's minds.
My friend Samantha who is like Captain MARVEL of the avengers helped out a lot by getting me information and locations. I'd give her a name, and she got the goods!
Debi Metcalfe, (founder of Stolen Horse International--NetPosse) WOW, thank you and your organization for getting the big ball rolling and giving me the tool to blast the information out to many groups on Facebook.
And Officer Sutter, who walked all those miles, worked with me, and never lost patience with me and my persistent calls, thank you. Chief, thank you for your quick response to me getting that case file number! I think that's what tipped the scale in our favor.
Today there are signs of improvement with Duke, and again Bruce and I want to take everyone involved in his search. Posting the shares and mostly the prayers brought such a happy ending.
I have to admit, when I was posting on the sites, I hated to visit because someone else's horse wasn't as lucky as Duke. My heart aches for them too.
I think it's time to bring the fight back against horse slaughter and change the livestock classification of horses used as companion pets, sports events, and pleasure riding. This way, I think that when a horse is stolen, the crime may get the same attention as your dog, cat, or whatever your domestic pet is when they go missing. Plus, please get your beloved pets microchipped! I've got some ideas on that, too, that I'm going to check on!
Bottom line. Never give up, don't be afraid to ask for help, and take the time necessary to search!
Our pets count on us for everything. If you brought that pet home, you accepted the responsibility of the proper care it takes and the love needed for them to be happy. In turn, you get unconditional love and are never judged. You always have a friend/family to whom you can tell all your secrets, dreams, and concerns. Treating your pets is an extension of yourself and how you want to be treated.