10 Horses, Five Dogs Shot Near Pensacola

Editor's Note: To see the update on this case go to www.TheHorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=6919

An April 17 shooting on a Florida farm left seven horses dead and three others  fighting to survive.

Desmond Davis of Beulah, Fla., returned to his home that evening to find 10 of his horses and five of his dogs shot. According to a police report, Davis returned home around 8:30, and noticed his chained fence had been cut open. Once inside, he found several animals dead, and several others with multiple gunshot wounds.

According to the Pensacola News Journal (www.pensacolanewsjournal.com), "When deputies arrived Tuesday (April 18), they found slain animals scattered across the property. The 6-week-old brown colt struggled to breathe in the horse corral. Another 7-week-old brown colt was found (tangled in the wire fencing) dead, shot in its right side."

Three horses survived the attack. Keith Weekley, DVM, MS, of the Northwest Florida Large Animal Clinic, who is caring for the survivors, told The Horse they had "a yearling filly that was shot in the right side between Ribs 7 and 8. The bullet came in at 75-degree angle, ricocheted off one of the ribs, and went down the side of the horse. It was more of a glancing blow. She is doing fine now other than a little infection. We were able to turn her out. She has a wound with some stitches, but you wouldn't know it."

Another mare was shot twice; one bullet penetrated her right hindquarter, but the veterinarians decided it was safer to leave it in because of its location,. The other bullet entered just above the heart and lung area. "We have not been able to find out where it is," Weekley explained. "Our ultrasound (machine) goes 11 inches deep, and we still couldn't find it. She's lethargic and depressed."

The 6-week-old colt also survived, but was partially paralyzed. He was later transported to the veterinary hospital at Auburn University were he was euthanatized because of the extent of his injuries. Davis' five English Setters were also killed in the attack.

Escambia County Sheriff's Office is investigating the shooting; however, no arrests have been made in connection with the case.

Sgt. Mike Ward, the department's spokesperson said, "At the present time we don't have any new additional information." He added that the investigators are actively following leads pertaining to the case.

Linda Lambert, president of the Panhandle Equine Rescue, which has court authority to investigate equine cruelty cases in the Pensacola (Beulah) area, said local horse organizations and rescues (including Panhandle) have offered a $17,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect or suspects involved with the case.

She said the perpetrators used two types of weapons, a .22-caliber gun, and a shotgun. It is unclear at this time if there were more than one person involved.

"The problem with the .22 bullets is, when they enter into the body, the entry seals over, and you can't see where the bullets went in," Lambert explained. When the horses were being transported for treatment, officials were unaware that an additional horse was also wounded. This horse suffered a bullet wound that ruptured a vital organ.

Lambert said that before they were shot, the horses on the farm "were turned out of their stalls and were just running wild. They were crashing through fences in the darkness, and they were exhausted. They were used for target practice. One foal got caught up in a fence, and he was shot dead there.

"The horse owning community is up in arms about this," Lambert said. "They are worried about their own animals."

Weekley described the scene at the clinic. "We were sort of depressed--we had so many horses coming in and dying all at once, we've never seen anything like this before. The bullet holes were so small that we couldn't see where they were until we opened them up. When we saw the damage, we were amazed that they were able to live that long.

"I just want to thank everyone for the wonderful support that has been coming in from all over the country--we have more than enough to cover the vet bills," Weekley continued. He said donations came in from across the country and from Canada. Although a decision has not been made yet, he said the additional funds would be donated to the American Association of Equine Practioners' (AAEP) Emergency Relief Fund. "They did a lot of good work during the hurricanes last year."

Davis, the horses' owner, an elderly gentleman according to Weekley, comes to the clinic every other day, and calls when he can't make it to check on his horses.

"I think he's still in shock--in denial about all this," Weekley said. "He keeps asking about horses that have died. It's just a sad situation."

If you have any information on this case please contact Sgt. Mike Ward at 850/436-9204.


About the Author

Chad Mendell

Chad Mendell is the former Managing Editor for TheHorse.com .

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