FRANKFORT — Kathryn Caldwell takes a moment to collect her thoughts and get her emotions under control before she talks about the death of a horse rescued from a LaGrange County farm.
“That,” she finally said, “was a bad day.”
Caldwell said Mica, a horse seized from a LaGrange County farm on Sept. 24, had quickly become the focus of her rescue, and that the horse’s death triggered a flood of emotion.
“I cried a river of tears, both happy and sad,” Caldwell continued. “She’d gone through so much, stood by the road waiting to be saved. The leg was healing beautifully, I thought, but it was the infection in her chest that got her.”
Caldwell is the founder and president of Indiana Horse Rescue and was given custody of the horse after it was seized by LaGrange County Sheriff Jeff Campos. Several people contacted the sheriff’s office complaining about a horse in poor condition standing near a fence on a farm just off S.R. 9 co-owned by Larry Myers Sr.
The 13-year old draft horse was suffering deep and severe lacerations on both of her front legs, a puncture wound in her chest, and had blood on her face. Myers told Campus he bought the horse already injured several days earlier at a horse sale and was attempting to nurse the horse back to health. But Campos also said Myers told him he didn’t intend to call a veterinarian to treat the animal and that he would tend to the animal’s injuries himself.
Campos arrived at Myers property with Indiana State Board of Animal Health veterinarian Dr. Bruce Lamb. The sheriff said the horse’s legs were swollen and bleeding, and that the horse wasn’t moving.
“We knew the horse was in pain,” Campos said.
Campos seized the animal and turned her over to Caldwell’s Indiana Horse Rescue. He charged Myers with one count of animal neglect.
Myers has a long history of complaints about how he cares for the animals he purchases and keeps on his property located about halfway between Howe and LaGrange. Campos said his deputies have investigated each of those complaints but until now did not uncover evidence of wrongdoing by Myers. The sheriff said that recent changes in Indiana laws made it possible for him to seize animals and cite Myers for neglect.
Less than a month after Campos seized the first animal, LaGrange County Sheriff’s Office deputies obtained search warrants and visited three of Myers properties and seized an additional 17 animals – three horses, two young calves, a goat and 11 dogs. The horses, calves, and a goat were all turned over to IHR. The dogs were placed in the custody of LaGrange County’s Ark Animal Rescue and Adoption.
Richard Muntz, a LaGrange lawyer who represents Myers, said he has encouraged his client not to talk to the media at this time. Muntz declined to comment as well.
Mica ultimately spent about 30 days in foster care before succumbing to her wounds. While Caldwell said she initially believed the wounds on Mica’s legs were her greatest concern, it was complications from the horse’s chest injury that ultimately caused her death. Despite antibiotic treatments, her injuries turned septic and Mica died early in the morning on Oct. 27.
Caldwell said she is comforted knowing Mica knew she was being cared for and was loved by her volunteers the last four weeks of her life.
Unfortunately, running a rescue allows Caldwell little time to sit back and mourn.
IHR tends to more than 20 horses, including the three bay mares seized from Myers properties on Oct. 23. Uno, the first of those horses, suffers from a serious laceration on her hind leg. The second horse, Bella, was extremely underweight and lame due to hoof abscess. Caldwell said the third horse, now called Katy, also came in extremely underweight and was suffering a case of cellulitis. All three have responded to care and Caldwell expects them to make a full recovery.
Caldwell said the two young calves were also extremely underweight and were placed on area farms. In a Facebook post dated Nov. 10, Caldwell said despite their care, both of those calves passed away earlier this month.
Cindy Miller, the director of Ark, said all 11 dogs, which were seized are recovering.
Caldwell said she is pragmatic and will do whatever is in the best interest of the horse, but that she honestly believed that Mica would make it. She added that she has no regrets about the thousands of dollars the rescue spent trying to save Mica’s life.
“Just a few days before Mica passed away, she hugged her caretaker,” Caldwell said. “By that I mean, her caretaker was down working on the horse’s leg and when she stood up, the horse’s head was over her shoulder and Mica pulled her in and hugged her. Not all horses will do that. It was almost as if she was saying ‘Thank you.’”
Campos said the case against Myers has moved forward and formal charges will be filled with the prosecutor’s office within days.
In addition, Campos said detectives from his office and representatives from the Indiana State Board of Animal Health have met with Myers and informed him about what changes must be made on his properties.