The Iowa owner of the six escaped horses, Melissa Happel, was shocked early Tuesday morning, September 10, to find her show horses missing from their paddock. They had somehow broken free or escaped during the night.
After getting all but one horse rounded up and back to the safety of an enclosure, she called the authorities. It was not long before a Bremer County deputy followed up her call to look around the property and reconstruct what might have occurred. He found a pole that had fallen over the fence, allowing the horses to step out of their paddock. His initial investigation found no footprints, evidence of disturbance or fence tampering.
Happel did not find the missing horse, Prince, until early afternoon when he was attempting to return to the other horses from in the woods. He was extremely hot, gasping for breath and stumbling, barely able to remain on his feet. She called Dr. Ken McDonough of the Oelwein Veterinary Clinic, but nothing could be done for the horse. Prince died soon after.
The cause of death would have been hypothermia, body temperature getting too warm due to some type of exertion, which could be caused by struggling for a long period of time or being chased to the point of exhaustion, something like that.
Happel is not sure about what happened. She believes her fence was tampered with, and so were her horses. While she is not sure what occurred during the night, she does know that fence sections were removed. Also, she thinks one particular section was broken from outside of the fence. Regardless, she thinks it’s unlikely the “horses escaped on their own.”
She senses animal cruelty is involved. She says, "I want answers. Why? What would make you do this to an animal?"
The Bremer County sheriff assures Happel this incident will be investigated further. He does feel, however, that the deputy made the correct assumption with the information available at the time.
Link to video from KWWL
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