Grace – The Horse with the Amazing Spirit Passes
July 17, 2011 § 2 Comments
A photo taken of Grace shortly after her seizure in August. She weight 560 pounds, almost 500 pounds less than her normal weight.
A photo taken of Grace in May, nine months after she was rescued from neglect and taken to Strawberry Mountain Mustangs in Dixonville.
Grace, who was 28 years old, was euthanized Thursday after suffering from a series of health problems.
Darla Clark, owner of the Dixonville horse rescue ranch Strawberry Mountain Mustangs, where Grace spent her final year, said she was amazed at the hundreds of comments left on her Facebook page.
“She left such a huge legacy and drew so much attention,” Clark said today. “There are so many people who fell in love with that little brown horse.”
On Aug. 12, Grace was seized from a home outside Dillard after a neighbor called Douglas County Animal Control. She weighed 560 pounds, almost 500 pounds less than her normal weight.
According to court documents, Deputy Lee Bartholomew, the county’s lone animal control officer, said that when he saw Grace, she was “literally nothing but a skeleton with skin on it.”
After almost a year at the rescue ranch, Grace had fully recovered, but she developed kidney problems, which led to colic, a severe intestinal obstruction. While fighting the pain, Grace, who was named by Clark for her poise and spirit, had a stroke.
Clark said she made the difficult decision to put Grace down Thursday.
“She was so tough,” Clark said. “We probably could have overcame any one of those things, but not all three.”
An animal autopsy was done to determine the exact cause of death. Clark said veterinarians found sand and gravel in her intestine, a result of being malnourished at her previous home.
“She was constantly foraging for food on the ground and picked up a lot of gravel,” Clark said.
Two woman, who owned Grace jointly, are being held accountable for Grace’s neglect. Grace’s name before arriving at Clark’s horse rescue was Molly.
Teresa Anne Dicke, 50, of Winston is charged with first-degree animal neglect and animal abuse, and Linda Diane Fessenden, 49, of Winston is charged with second-degree animal neglect.
According to court documents, on the day Grace was the seized, Bartholomew spoke on the phone with Dicke, who said there “was nothing wrong with the horse” and that “it looked better then it did before.”
Also according to court documents, Dicke had previously been advised by a veterinarian that her horse was too thin and needed a special diet to put on weight.
The day after the seizure, Fessenden brought Bartholomew a signed release that turned the horse over to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
At that time, Fessenden was shown a digital picture of Grace and started crying, saying that she should be punished, too, because she hadn’t taken time to check on the horse, according to court documents.
A two-day trial in front of a six-person jury is scheduled to begin Sept. 29.
District Attorney Jamie Carmichael declined to comment about the case.
The maximum penalty for both first-degree animal abuse and animal neglect is one year in jail and $6,500.
The maximum penalty for second-degree animal neglect is six months in jail and $2,500.
If convicted, the women would also not be able to own a domestic animal for five years.
Clark said she is starting the Grace Fund, a program to educate people on the proper nutrition of older horses.
“People need to know that old horses don’t have to be skinny,” she said.