Horses seized again, sad story, happy ending
By Gail Joiner BCC Publisher
On Wednesday, Feb. 22, Bandera County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Kristina Hoiberg responded to a welfare concern/check on the horses, dogs and cats at the residence of Wendy Dorsey on Forest Trail Drive in Bandera County.
Knowing that there had been a complaint the day before, fielded by Deputy Neely, Deputy Hoiberg first contacted Deputy Neely about his knowledge of the animal welfare complaints at the Dorsey property. Deputy Neely was under the impression that the horses were being cared for by DVM Stephen Sells and that Ms. Sandra Schott, the Bandera County Animal Control Liaison, was aware of the situation involving the horses.
Before proceeding to the Dorsey property, Deputy Hoiberg contacted Ms. Schott and Dr. Sells and found this impression to be untrue. According to statements in an application for warrant to seize animals, “Ms. Schott was unaware of anything currently involving Ms. Dorsey.” The application also noted, “Dr. Sells stated Ms. Dorsey doesn’t’ take care of her horses properly and I will no longer work for her.” He also stated that “he had to put one of Ms. Dorsey’s horses down a couple of months ago and that he would not go back out there again.”
Upon arrival at the Dorsey property, Hoiberg observed there to be six horses identified as a Bay stallion (Tesoro), a North American curly gelding (Legend), a Shetland pony/miniature mare (Abby Dawn), a Palomino mare quarter horse (Mendesa), an Appaloosa mare (Catalina) and a North American curly mare (Charade). The dogs appeared to be okay and she saw no cats. In her application for warrant, she stated “The horses appeared to be thin, as you could see the hip bones and the ribs. There was a large amount of feces in the pens where the horses were kept.”
On Thursday, Feb. 23, Hoiberg returned to the Dorsey property with DVM Conrad Nightingale. Nightingale’s assistant took notes while he assessed each horse, which included taking fecal samples.
In his written assessment, received Monday, Feb. 27 by Deputy Hoiberg, Dr Nightingale noted, “No bedding except stool droppings were provided which piled up throughout the enclosures ranging from six inches to a foot or more in depth indicating no removal in weeks to months. Ms. Dorsey had said the horses were hand grazed outside the pens but volunteer grass showed no signs of grazing and no stools were noted among the patches of grass and no evidence of hoof prints were observed outside the pens.”
The assessment continued, “Ms. Dorsey explained that she dewormed the horses every 6 months and that Dr. Steve Sells had run a fecal and that no parasites were noted. However, in a phone conversation that same day with Dr. Sells, he indicated that ‘he had not run such a test and the only tme he had visited the premise was to euthanize a horse that was reported to be down in a pen for several days by a neighbor, and the neighbor paid for his services. According to Dr. Sells, the horse he euthanized would have scored a one on the (BCS) system’. Fecal samples were obtained from each of six pens (by Dr Nightingale) and run through our laboratory. Parasite ova were noted in the samples of the animals indicating parasitism. Since incorrect information had been given by Ms Dorsey, I contacted other veterinarians in the area and found that Dr Lindstrom had run fecal exams in Oct. of 2016, but had not seen the horses. His reports showed all were positive for internal parasites except one. Furthermore, no veterinarians in the area had records of any preventative medicine or immunizations for any of the horses. Hoof trimming was not evident and cracked hoof walls were present so one can assume no farrier service either.”
Dr Nightingale commented in his assessment, “Visual examination of the animals was very disheartening as this same premise was visited eight years ago with similar observations. Those horses were removed for lack of adequate care and malnutrition to other owners and facilities. All horses exhibited excessive long hair for this time of year and weather. Ribs and hipbones were readily evident and Body Condition Scoring was one to two on all except the miniature. Scoring reflects emaciation, little or no fatty tissue over ribs, tail head, hips and hip bones projecting, bone structure of withers, shoulders and neck easily seen.”
In an almost identical situation, on May 15, 2009, 13 horses were seized from Dorsey at the same location along with three dogs.
During a civil hearing on May 20, 2009 Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Herschel Moore awarded the horses to a local rescue organization, 4 Winds Equine Rescue.
According to the Courier’s report at that time, “When apprised that one of the seized mares was pregnant, Dorsey denied having bred it to one of the three stallions that she kept on her property.
“She repeatedly noted that she had attempted to sell some of the horses to reduce her herd from 13 to just six horses. In fact, Dorsey had posted a Paso Fino stallion, Estrellis Pride, for sale on the Internet for $3,500, describing him as a proven breeder.”
During the 2009 hearing Nightingale offered a devastating observation, saying, “I’ve traveled in all kinds of Third World countries and I’ve never seen as many horses in this kind of condition in one location. I’m ashamed they were in my county.” Additionally, he declined to call the horses ‘malnourished,’ but referred to them as ‘starving.’”
Dorsey had all 13 horses seized and awarded to 4 Winds Equine, a nonprofit horse rescue organization. She was also assessed the cost of the investigation and $2,504 for the cost to date for the care of all 13 horses.
The three dogs were returned to Dorsey after provisions were been made for their safe restraint. Dorsey also had 30 days to have the trio spayed, micro chipped and vaccinated. Additionally, she had to pay $70 per dog for boarding costs.
The current investigation resulted in a warrant, issued Wednesday, March 1 to have Bandera County Wrangler, Glenn Rainey, seize the six horses in Dorsey’s possession.
During a civil hearing on Friday, March 10, Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Mike Towers herd testimony on the animals’ condition from state witnesses, Dr. Conrad Nightingale and the Bandera County Animal Control Officer Kristina Hoiberg. It was ordered that Wendy Dorsey be divested of ownership of the six horses and that she will have no livestock on the property (in the future).
Judge Towers further ordered Dorsey to pay costs incurred or to be incurred by Bandera County for the veterinarian expense incurred as of Friday, March 10, housing and caring for the six horses as of Wednesday, March 1 plus $850 to be paid to Bandera County for the expenses incurred in transporting the six horses to Bandera County Wrangler Facility.
The six horses were to be given to a non-profit society for the protection of animals. If no Rescue Group were able to take them by Wednesday, May 10, they would be humanely euthanized.
Luckily (for the horses), through diligent efforts by Community Liaison on Animal Control Issues Sandra Schott, homes were found for all six horses with Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society and Texas Windwalkers Rescue.