Do horses grieve or pine for one another? A disturbing story unraveled last week, could prove that theory to be very true.
An Arabian white mare horse was euthanized last Thursday after several complaints had been made about the horses health situation. The horse had been down for 30 hours, and for a horse, that is almost detrimental according to equine research.
The Arabian’s normal weight should be approximately 1,000 pounds. Upon looking at her face, she resembled that of a goat, hips protruding, hind legs sunk in, ribcage exposed due to the severe weight loss this horse had experienced. The mare was so visually emaciated she was no longer able to stand.
It was the scene of appalling failure, help was sought for years, and it fell on deaf ears.
Although the Arabian mare was estimated in her 30’s and the daughter horse, somehwere between 12-15 years of age, It was clear that the horses hadn’t had the proper hoof, dental or health veterinarian care for some time. Hoofs were split, teeth visibly red and sore.
When Veterinarian, Tom Sanders administered the euthanasia, the horse took her last breath, her daughter, the buckskin mare approached her, sniffing her over, grieving over her mother.
Horses in the other corrals, paced, stammered as if they knew what had just happened. If you’ve ever wondered the extent of a horses grief, it’s really undefinable. The daughter horse continually charged her surroundings, her life changed within minutes. Two horses who went where the other one went. Where one stood, so would the other, they were inseparable and now that was no more.
As the dead mother horse was loaded into the bucket of a tractor, the daughter horse ran up, stood in front of the tractor, as if it was her one last time to say goodbye. The tractor exited the corral headed towards the landfill, while the daughter horse followed the tractor alongside the corral, whinnying and stammering. For the next hour, she paced, broke a sweat, was foaming from the underside of her body, it was a battle for that horse when you watched her…..internally, mentally and physically. As she circled the corral, tripping several times from her erratic circling. A scene no one would would ever want to witness.
How could it get to this? Who was responsible? Mary DeLucia, owner of the horses signed a lease in October 2013 for corral number 17. The last payment received for the lease of the corral was April 13, 2017.
Former City Clerk, Robert Switzer sent DeLucia a letter on October 10, 2018 informing DeLucia she was being evicted since she had failed to pay on her lease. The letter indicated she had 30 days to vacate the property with all her belongings. That never happened, and it was never enforced by prior management at the City of Ely. All of these things were not discovered until late last week.
Fast forward to last week. A concerned corral lessee, Terri Carrigan sent an email to the City Council, Mayor, and City Clerk detailing her concerns about these two horses. “I observed an elderly horse down in corral 17 at the city corrals. The mare, approximately 30 plus years old, has been emaciated for years, her feet have not been cared for in years, often goes without food or water, and her corral partner often manages to open a gate and they are out loose. All of this has been reported to the proper authorities several times by myself, and other corral members. Nothing has ever been done. The owner, Mary Lee DeLucia, is unable to even care for herself most of the time, never mind two horses, and patches together care for them from several different individuals once a week or so.”
Carrigan went on to explain her efforts of contacting the local Brand Inspector, Pete Mangum. “I kept in communication with him throughout the morning, (November 13) and it sounded to me like a resolution was happening that day. Much to my surprise, when I arrived at the corrals Wednesday evening, I saw she was still alive. I attempted to contact the brand inspector again, with no response, I called the Sheriff’s Department to report it.” Deputy Ernie Rivera with the White Pine County Sheriff’s office responded, took several pictures, obtained a written statement from Carrigan. Rivera informed Carrigan that animal control would be contacting a veterinarian to assess the situation the following morning.
Thursday, November 14 , Carrigan was contacted by Mangum who informed her that he agreed the horse needed to be put down, but stated that the owner requested to wait until she came home. “It is unacceptable to let an animal lie there and die slowly of dehydration and starvation because the owner won’t give consent, it’s cruel,” Carrigan said.
Carrigan checked on the Arabian mare, who had now been down for thirty hours, had not been up, was now unable to get to water, or food. Research explains that a horse that is down for this amount of time, has a very unlikely chance to get back up, ultimately the horse was now left suffering, while the owner was instructing that the horse couldn’t be put down until she returned. But, the horse was no longer DeLucia’s. When DeLucia failed to pay her lease in 2018, the horses became property of the City of Ely.
Upon further investigation, bags of empty dog food, cans of corn, and a bag of oatmeal were discovered in a trough inside the corral. Several locals reported that several people in the surrounding corrals would try to help feed and water the horses after they noticed no one had come by for days to feed the horses. It was reported that family members said they were feeding the horses with dog food because they didn’t have hay.
DeLucia explained that she never received the eviction notice. City Clerk Jennifer Lee noted that other notices that are mailed to the same address have never been returned. When asked about the empty bags of dog food, corn cans and oatmeal , she commented that she used the dog food to feed the peacocks, and admitted to using the corn and oatmeal to feed the horses. There are no peacocks on the premises. When asked when the last time she had physically fed the horses, she couldn’t recall noting she had been in the hospital for several months. “I don’t know what people have been doing feeding my horses, I give them hay and grain.”
When DeLucia was questioned on the last time the horses had been seen by a vet she commented, “Six months ago, by Dr. Sanders.” Dr. Sanders office was contacted and it was verified that Dr. Sanders had never seen the horses until the day he was requested to perform the euthanasia last Thursday.
An email requesting the process on who is in charge of situations like this was sent to the Brand Inspector’s office in Elko, the White Pine County Sheriff’s Office and animal control. Nevada Revised Statute outlines the law on food, water and shelter for an animal, and it also covers neglect and cruelty.
The City of Ely Clerk, Jennifer Lee moved swiftly with administration to authorize the transfer of the buckskin mare to a horse rescue in Clinton, Utah. Lazy B Equine Rescue was contacted immediately, and the rescue traveled to Ely in the early morning hours on Saturday. A horse who had never been broke to ride, weaned from her mother, and has had a halter on her head a limited number of times, took to the halter, and loaded onto the trailed within 10 minutes. The horse has been given a name by the rescue, Indra, Indy for short. Fuel for the transport was provided by the Ely Shoshone Tribe. Director, Kelsey Bjorklund, “she is a very sweet and precious horse, very nervous but eager.”
This horses vet care and rehabilitation will take some time, and will be costly, if you would like to donate, please contact Lazy B Equine Rescue at 360-317-6856, or via email at Lazybequinerescueofutah@