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Reward Growing for Abusers of Mutilated Pony

  • Updated
  • 19

RUPERT • What the county deputy found Sunday morning was beyond belief.

An aging Shetland pony named “Patches” stood bleeding and mutilated, dazed and in shock.

Someone, under the cover of darkness, stole a young family’s pony and dragged it nearly a mile and a half over a paved country road and a canal bank to an area known locally as Tuma’s Pond near Rupert.

There, Patches had been beaten about the eyes, had skin cut and torn from his hindquarters and his gut punctured. His knees were ground to the bone and road rash covered his sides.

“It was a cowardly act,” said Trevor Stapelman, the veterinarian who eventually put the pony down. “I don’t know who would do something like this, but I sure hope they catch them.”

Reward money has poured in from folks all over the country after news of the heinous crime hit Facebook. With a $10,000 donation from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the reward grew to more than $15,000 by late Tuesday.

Marlyce Tuma, who lives on 200 West just south of the B1 Canal, said her bulldog barked “with his ‘man voice’” at about 10:30 Saturday night. She looked out her windows but saw nothing unusual in the darkness.

Later she heard high-pitched animal screams in the distance.

The next morning, neighbor Lind Garner was making his rounds when he saw blood on the road and followed the trail to Patches. Garner told the Times-News Tuesday that it was too terrible to talk about.

Neighbors at 200 North and 200 West are a close bunch, Tuma said.

“Everybody knew Patches,” she said. The pony was often tethered at what she called “retirement corner,” where passersby would stop to pet him.

Patches was owned by Hugo and Daniela Lopez, who have a home just around the corner from retirement corner. A family friend gave the pony to the couple for their boys Ethan, 5, Derrick, 3, and Jacob, 2, to ride.

The property at the corner, which Garner oversees, is uninhabited. Garner let the Lopezes graze the pony there to keep the weeds down.

“My grandkids would ride him,” Tuma said. “I loved that little pony. It makes me sick to think he was dragged by my house and I didn’t know.”

Minidoka County Sheriff Eric Snarr said his office is actively pursuing the case, but he declined to release any more information. He did say, however, that he had never seen anything like this.

Snarr said he has received several hundred emails and phone calls “from clear across the nation” from people insisting he catch and prosecute Patches’ abusers.

“What hurts me the most is to think about what he was going through and what he was thinking,” Lopez said. “He was in so much pain.”

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