Stolen Horse International Announces Court Victories

Stolen Horse International Announces Court Victories for Missing Horse Case Victims
From California to Maryland

Stolen Horse International (SHI) has resolved equine theft cases and has proven the justice system can prevail. For Rod Vilencia of California the victory was more than a decade in the making. And in the end, he not only got his mare back, but with two of her offspring as well.

When the criminal verdict was reached, Vilencia e-mailed his group of supporters the following: "Today, on April 20, 2006, Shaunda L. Voyles of Seal Rock, Oregon pleaded guilty to Felony Forgery in the first degree to avoid a trial in the stolen horse and forgery case that the state of Oregon had against her! As a part of her plea deal, she has relinquished custody of Ariel, Lena, and Jesse to me and that means that ARIEL IS HOME TO STAY! This is the news that I been hoping to give you all for the past year and a half, and the dream that I have had for the past 13 years now!

Rod thanked a number of people including Debi Metcalfe of Stolen Horse International, who was there to personally celebrate Ariel, Lena and Jesse's homecoming last October. Vilencia still has a civil case against Voyles pending. He, Metcalfe, and SHI supporters anxiously await the outcome of the sentencing hearing on May 5 for the criminal case,
In Maryland, there is another case where justice has prevailed, although it wasn't quite as sweet.

In December 2005, the Schoeffield family's overo Paint mare, Sonny, disappeared from her pasture. The initial belief was that it was a simple case of theft. Then two weeks later, another horse disappeared from the farm. The Schoeffields began to suspect a family member's involvement. While the Schoeffield's reported both horses to SHI, and "Idaho Alerts" (missing horse alerts sent out to law enforcement and horse community) were immediately issued, they pursued the suspect through other legal avenues.

The Schoeffield's first victory came when Sonny was temporarily awarded to them and returned. When Sonny vanished, she was in foal. Upon her return, she was underweight and the family wasn't sure whether the unborn foal would survive. In the meantime, the search and proceedings continued for the second mare, a dark bay part-Morgan, Shea.
When the Schoeffields found out that Shea had been sold at auction within a day of her disappearance, their hopes soared, because they had a lead. As soon as SHI was notified that Shea had been sold at New Holland on January 2, 2006, a new Idaho Alert and flyer were issued and NetPosse (SHI's web site) volunteers began following the lead. Unfortunately, it didn't come soon enough.

Before Shea could be tracked down, the court declared the Schoffields to be the legal owners of Sonny and Shea. And while there would be no more question of ownership, since Shea had not been recovered, they were allotted a monetary judgment for her. This made the victory bittersweet, but there was one more ray of sunshine to come. On April 17, a healthy filly was born to Sonny.

While Rod is awaiting Voyles' sentencing and the outcome of the civil case, the Schoffields still hold out hope that someone will at least let them know where Shea is. Ms. Schoffield writes: "Now all we want to do is find Shea just to know she is okay. We don't want to buy her back but would be really happy to know she was in a safe home. We are not going to try to remove the horse or pursue action against anyone that has purchased her or who currently has her since the case was already resolved."

The month of April was one of victories for these owners whose horses had been stolen. However, these people didn't simply accept the situations and take justice into their own hands. By utilizing the court systems, justice prevailed. SHI was established to help the victims of criminal and civil theft recover their horses, but SHI and the NetPosse members are there no matter what the story or result.

Many think of horse theft as the criminal act of a stranger, but "civil" theft is growing rapidly through sales or lease agreements or simply unscrupulous people. Through Metcalfe's dedication and SHI's voice in the horse community, horse owners are receiving education and awareness about the prevalence of horse theft.

There are many stories on NetPosse that don't yet have happy endings and many more that will come in 2006. You can support SHI and its victims by joining the NetPosse, or providing public education or seminars. Metcalfe is available to write articles or give seminars tailored to your specific needs. You may also support SHI through your tax-deductible donation. Visit for more information.

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