You know what’s crazy? I’ll tell you what’s crazy™
The Dead Horse.
The horse is young and cannot stand.
The mare is dying, starving, emaciated.
The pitiful animal is sprawled in the cold wet mud, clinging to whatever life she has left.
I watch the iPhone footage of the listless animal. It lays motionless on the ground, periodically moving its tail. In the shaky, hand held footage, I see the little horse move its hind legs, trying to push itself up. The effort, though valiant, is hardly enough to propel this sick animal to her feet. Instead, she conserves her energy and lies still on the cold, wet ground.
The image is harsh. I gnash my teeth.
How does this happen?
This horse is not 20 years old. This horse is a year and a half. It should be strong and vibrant and galloping in this expansive field.
Instead, the little Bay Mare is in critical condition, clinging to life.
The animal control officers on scene will later tell me it is one of the worst cases they have come across.
Can you imagine that?
ONE OF THE WORST CASES THEY HAVE SEEN?
These are people who do nothing all day but deal with atrocity and heinous acts of barbarism against defenseless animals.
One of the worst cases they have seen.
The statement is like a punch to the jaw.
You know it’s bad when people who do this every day and see atrocities every day say this is the worst they’ve seen.
It’s like the guy who mops up the E.R. after the Level 1 Trauma event saying that’s the most blood I’ve ever squeegeed into my bucket.
It’s saying something.
I look at the video of the horse’s pen. It is barren like a Siberian dumpster. The trees are without small branches and much of the bark is gone.
“That’s where the young horse was eating the tree bark because she had no hay.”
I look around at the property.
It’s not a postage stamp of indigency. There is no dirty alley with drug needles. I don’t see a spare tire in the front yard. There is no ash tray on the porch with 10 cigarettes smoked to the filter. There are no empty beer bottles thrown in the lawn. There is no empty box of diapers discarded on the stoop.
I’ve been to this scene more times than I can count. I often know what it’s going to look like before I get out of the car.
This is different. I’m in the country. The home is grandiose, perhaps 4,000 square feet or more. There are surveillance cameras affixed to the front. There is a Range Rover parked in the circular driveway. There are acres of open country behind the home in this rural section of Northern Davidson County.
And then there is this pen of death.
It’s incongruous with the rest of the scene. It’s like a black eye on a super model.
I ask the investigators about the perception versus the reality here.
Big house. Fancy Car. Open fields.
I’m looking at the trappings of affluence. With affluence usually comes education and respectability.
But the end result here, the reality, is a horse that literally starved to death.
That’s right. It took 4 officers to raise the 14 month old horse to her feet. Once standing her hip bones almost popped through her spiky, mud crusted coat.
They got her into a trailer and were taking her to the Vet.
Then a horrible thing happened along the way to a happy ending.
The young horse, so full of promise, collapsed and died.
The shock was too great. The help she needed, came too late.
The horse expired.
“What did the owner say about all this?” I ask the head investigator.
The woman in the dark animal control uniform, pauses, swallowing hard.
I can tell she wants to bitch slap the horse owner for her lack of compassion and stupidity.
Instead, she takes a gulp of air and then tells me with a straight face that the horse’s owner didn’t realize that anything was wrong.
DIDN’T REALIZE ANYTHING WAS WRONG!
The words sink into my brain as she continues with the politically correct statement. The investigator tells me that people need to be educated and understand the responsibilities of owning an animal.
I stare at the investigator. I see behind her brown eyes and expressionless face, she is seething.
I use that moment to vomit my contempt for the anonymous horse owner who I will never meet or know.
“Education?,” I spew. “For what? To know that you need to feed your animals?”
The investigator’s face softens and she actually laughs a little laugh.
It’s short and quick, like a burp after a beer bong, coming off a tilt a whirl.
She gathers herself, regains her composure and reassures me that the agency will move forward with the investigation to prosecute the woman. She tells me that the emphasis is now on making sure the 2 Rotweillers confiscated at the home, both of whom were malnourished, get the best veterinary care possible.
I thank her for her time.
I look at the last images of the little horse, laying on the ground, trying to get up.
How long does it take to starve to death, I wonder.
How does it feel to be so weak, that laying in the icy mud is the only thing you can do.
What kind of person allows this to happen and then says she didn’t realize anything was wrong.
I knocked on the horse owner’s door. Nobody answered. I stared at her cameras pointed at me. I was seething. I said nothing, as I banged on the glass door firmly.
In many ways, I was sad that I didn’t get to see the horse owner who let this happen. I have a lot of questions for her.
In some ways, it’s probably good that nobody answered. I need to keep my job.