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Jan 30, 2007

Owner’s cruelty leaves horse to die

Story PictureIf you’ve been following the U.S. newscasts you’ll know that a horse named Barbaro, winner of the Kentucky Derby, was injured in a subsequent race and had to be put down by its owners. Well, the injured horse found wandering on the Western Highway this morning may not have been a thoroughbred, but the humans who found it were not without compassion. News Five’s Janelle Chanona reports.

Caroline Bowen, Secretary, Belize Humane Society
“Utter sadness, disgrace, and anger. I want to know who left the animal in this condition on the side of the road.”

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
That was the reaction of officials from the Belize Humane Society this morning following the discovery of a horse near mile three on the Western Highway that was suffering from serious injuries to its right front leg.

Caroline Bowen
“The animal is shaking, like I say, it will inevitably bleed to death, a very slow, slow painful death. The animal cannot move, one of its hoofs is submerged in water right now and it cannot move. So I think right now the best thing is to humanely euthanize it at this time.”

Over the course of the morning, officials from the Sanitation Department of the Belize City Council showed up at the scene, but they could only offer to assist in disposing the animal’s body. It was left to veterinarian Dr. Michael DeShield to make a diagnosis.

Dr. Michael DeShield, Veterinarian
“It was a horse that was apparently hit by a car. It has very bad broken leg in several places actually and it is suffering.”

“The horse is very much dependent on its digits. It’s actually just one digit that it stands on and they are very big, and so they depend a lot on that leg. So if you have a broken leg it would be very difficult to try to even try to repair that leg because of all the weight.”

DeShield’s examination determines the wounds to the animal are too great; it must be put down.

Dr. Michael DeShield
“He’s got to shoot here to the base of the brain because they have big sinuses here, so if they shoot in here it’s just going to go in the air.”

Janelle Chanona
“Is he going to feel anything?”

Dr. Michael DeShield
“No, the injection that I gave is actually a very potent for pain stuff like that, it’s like standing anaesthesia.”

Assistant Commissioner of Police Crispin Jefferies has the disturbing duty of finalising the mercy killing.

(Jeffries shoots horse)

Horses tied to trees on the side of the road are common sights in Belize, but it’s one practice Dr. DeShield says must change.

Dr. Michael DeShield
“It’s not only bad for the horse because they have these horses that are tied and we have actually seen cases where the rope gets wrapped around the leg and cuts off the circulation and the leg just actually rots, that we had to put the horse down as well. So people have to be aware of that and pay attention to the animal. You know the animal can’t fend for itself. If you are going to own an animal, you have to be responsible. The other thing, the danger for people who are driving and these horses are on the road, if a bee would come and they jump out, that creates a hazard for traffic as well. And obviously the kind of injury that’s here, there’s some truck or some vehicle that got damaged.”

Initial police investigations reveal that the mare had been tethered in the area for some time, but the length of the rope had allowed the animal to wander unto the road. Sometime on Monday night, the horse was involved in a traffic accident with a red G.M.C. pickup truck. The driver, a resident of the Mile Eight community, reported the incident to authorities, but around seven-thirty today motorists noticed the badly wounded horse on the side of the highway. With permission from the landowner, the animal will be buried on the property.

But for animal rights activists, the incident highlights the need for more protection for our four legged friends. While it is not clear if this particular animal was employed in the horse and carriage trade, that is where the Humane Society is focussing its efforts.

Caroline Bowen
“It’s a living breathing creature and the fact that I think right now the current situation in Belize is that people in Belize are making money off these animals and they need to be taken care of. I know the Humane Society has a statutory instrument in place in Belmopan that just needs to be pushed through and that would give accountability to the horse and carriage owners and the drivers, it would put a lot of enforcement in there, it would make them accountable for different acts that may be carried out, whether it’s any liability to the tourist or just a general health care responsibility to the animal.”

Dr. Michael DeShield
“We really have to be aware of the cruelty that we are inflicting on some of these animals, so we have to be very careful and responsible. And if we are going to do it, we are not saying you can’t do these things, but do it in a proper way.”

Tonight police say they continue to search for the horse’s owner. Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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