The seizure of 26 horses housed on a small farm in Panama due to alleged neglect and animal cruelty was made public a few days ago. These charges are serious, against the law and, if confirmed, come with fines and possible jail time.
The LeFlore County Sheriff’s office was responsible for the rescue of the horses and transportation for all the horses was provided by Triple O Ranch Equine Sanctuary to its sanctuary. Two of the horses remained at Triple O Ranch while the remaining 24 horses were moved to Poor Boy Livestock Auction in Wister.
Sheriff Rob Seale said that 26 horses were taken after a resident reported several malnourished horses and that one was dead. Seale confirmed that the LeFlore County district attorney's office granted him permission to seize the horses without a court order.
The health conditions of the horses had yet to be established and planned medical evaluations of each animal were to being after the weekend. Local veterinarian Dr. Joe Dubois of Mountain View Animal Clinic, Poteau, was solicited to perform the exams.
The owner of the small farm, Jerry Shopshire, has found himself in this position before this seizure. He has had too many animals crowded into a small space and found himself unable to properly care for all of them.
On Monday, it did appear that law enforcement officials had started to consider other circumstances surrounding the health of the animals from the previous day, giving the impression that the horses may not have been in need of being saved, but in need of just being relocated to a place with more space and separated during feedings.
A few neighbors and local residents spoke to officials affirming that Shopshire genuinely loves horses and fed them hay daily. They thought it unlikely that Shopshire was neglecting the horses to the point where the animals should have been taken. All believed that total neglect had not occurred. Instead locals believed Shopshire simply used bad judgment in overstocking horses in too small an area.
A dead foal was found amongst all the horses and had not been removed. It was not immediately known how old the foal was, or how it died.
One stallion was found inside a horse trailer, separated from the mares. It was not known whether he had been forced to live inside the trailer for an extended period of time.
Most of the horses did not appear to be neglected although some of the animals were on the thin side. A number of horses had skin problems and lacerations. The veterinarian expects to find some medical conditions related to hooves and legs and skin.
Original observation of these horses determined that the animals were in danger and needed to be removed to a different location to maintain health. The standing question remains, however. Were these horses neglected and in danger due to the fault of Shopshire, or did he just have too many animals confined in one place - The immediate answer is that an owner has the responsibility to manage his animals prudently, provide plenty of food, water, medical care, living quarters, and regularly care for them.
Shopshire has hired attorney Gary Buckles.
Video of the seizure operation can be found on this link: 5 News
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