Aiken hunter who shot horse instead of deer is charged
November 29, 2011
By Tracey McManus, Chronicle.Augusta.com
An Aiken County hunter has been charged with animal cruelty for
shooting a $50,000 show horse while he was trying to shoot a deer
Samuel Stewart, of Aiken, was issued a ticket by Aiken County Animal
Control and will be fined $1,092 and could get up to 60 days in jail if
found guilty in court, said Bobby Arthurs, an animal control chief
The horse, a 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood named Oree, was brought to
the University of Georgia for treatment but had to be euthanized because
of the injury, owner Lisa Doker said.
“I feel like my heart has been ripped out,” Doker said. “I had him as
a yearling, I practically raised him. I’m not able to have children, and
this was the only next best thing I could have. It’s been very
Doker said she was walking to her barn to feed her horses about 6:40
when she heard a gun shot near her stable.
As she approached the barn, she saw her 16-year-old Quarter Horse
named Ike running frantically around his pasture. In the back of the
pasture, she found Oree lying on his side, breathing “extremely hard”
with blood on the right side of his body.
After several frantic phone calls, Aiken County Sheriff’s Office and
animal control arrived at the scene and found Stewart in his deer stand
in a tree on a neighbor’s property.
When questioned by authorities, Stewart said he did not admit to
shooting the horse but said he was shooting at a buck, a male deer, that
was in the direction of the horse, Arthurs said.
Arthurs said a neighbor had given Stewart permission to hunt on the
property and that he was shooting during hunting season, which runs
August through January.
A woman who answered the phone at Stewart’s residence said he would
not comment on the issue.
Doker said she has a hard time understanding how Stewart could have
accidently shot her horse or mistaken the animal for a deer.
“My horse is (6-feet tall), weighs 2,000 pounds, and he’s black and
Doker said. “He doesn’t have antlers growing out of his head, and he
doesn’t resemble a deer at all.”
Veterinarians at UGA told Doker that because Oree had lost so much
blood, he would not be able to wake up after an operation on the wound.
Doker said making the decision to euthanize her horse was one of the
hardest of her life. She had been training Oree in a riding discipline
known as dressage, which is a sport that trains horses to perform
movements based on balance and collection.
She had been riding at training and first levels of the sport, but
said she had pegged him as an athlete that could have progressed through
the FEI level, which is the highest and international level of dressage.
Although her horse is gone, Doker said she wants closure and
compensation for extensive vet bills.
“What scares me the most is (Stewart) could have shot me,” Doker
said. “I’m devastated and I’m shocked. Nobody can say I’m sorry to fix
this. I want justice for Oree.”
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