Wrangler Charged in Oregon Horse Shooting

A former employee of an Oregon youth camp faces multiple criminal charges in connection with the shooting and abandonment of Trooper, a 6-year-old Arabian gelding discovered wandering in the Deschutes National Forest with a gunshot wound to the head.

According to a press release from the Deschutes County Sheriff's Department, Russell Willeford, 27, of Banks, Ore., was arrested Oct. 29 and charged with animal abuse, attempted animal abuse, animal abandonment, criminal mischief, and theft. His bond was set at $16,000. No further information was available.

Trooper, shot horse found in woods

Trooper had a gunshot wound to the head, as well as an older leg injury.

Deschutes County Sheriff's Department Captain Marc Mills said Willeford was arrested after a tipster led police to two witnesses who recognized Trooper as a trail and lesson horse at Camp Tamarack, a youth camp in Sisters, Ore. Willeford was temporarily employed as a wrangler at the camp when he was told to find a new home for Trooper. Police believe he made an independent, unauthorized decision to shoot the horse. Willeford is no longer employed at the camp.

The camp's horse program director was unavailable for comment.

Trooper is currently under care at the Bend Equine Medical Center where in upcoming weeks surgeons will remove accessible bullet fragments and his damaged left eye.

Read more about Trooper.  

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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