A sheriff in Oregon says his office is examining its procedures after one of his deputies shot dead an elderly and arthritic pony that had escaped from his home. It was wrongly thought that the pony had been injured by a vehicle.
The American Miniature Horse named Gir, who was in his 30s, belonged to Crista Fitzgerald.
“We made a mistake,” Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said.
“I grew up with horses and livestock in Clackamas County, and understand their profound value.
“We offer our sincere condolences to the Fitzgerald family.”
Roberts, who released the incident report around the death of the pony, which occurred on February 19, said a judgment call was made in the field to humanely euthanize the animal.
“Ultimately, other actions could and should have been taken,” he said.
“We have approached the family about exploring ways to make this as right as we can. And we are examining our own procedures when dealing with this sort of situation in the future.”
The incident report describes how a deputy was called to a Molalla address on Highway 213 regarding a pony lying on a front lawn.
The caller advised dispatch personnel that the pony had possibly been hit by a car and was not able to stand.
While driving to the address, the officer learned there had been several 911 calls regarding a horse running in the northbound lane of Highway 213 around 5.30am.
He said he arrived around 9.30am.
“I ….. saw the horse was very old and couldn’t stand, although it tried numerous times but continued to fall over. It appeared it was nursing one front leg and a rear leg.”
He said he found nothing to indicate where the pony had come from.
“I believed the horse was beyond medical help.” He made several calls before the decision was made to euthanize the pony.
But Fitzgerald believes there was no good reason to put down her pony.
The officer spoke with Fitzgerald for the first time that afternoon. She explained that the pony had escaped from his shelter.
“She said she didn’t know hot it got out, but the pony was about 35 years old and had severe arthritis and it usually takes him a while before he can stand up,” the officer reported.
Gir’s body was taken to Oregon State University’s veterinary laboratory on February 25 for a necropsy. Gir was found to have no broken bones and was in good condition despite having arthritis.
The family is reported to be considering taking action against the sheriff’s office.
The incident report can be read here.