Thursday, September 23, 2004

Child's horse still missing

'She asks God and the angels to help her find him'

By Andrea Remke
Enquirer staff writer

Aly Wright, 3, of Demossville pets her horse Lucky. Another of her horses, Elvis, has been missing since Sept. 5.
DEMOSSVILLE - Three-year-old Aly Wright cries herself to sleep at night.

The girl's mother, Jamie Wright, can't explain to her why Aly's quarter horse, Elvis, has disappeared.

Wright said the 4-year-old gelding was out in their pasture with five other horses the last time they saw him, on Sept. 5.

The family has since searched the property, which abuts her grandfather's land, where they keep 12 horses on 37 acres.

They are suspicious about his disappearance because there is a 6-foot-high barbed wire fence around the pasture.

"Nobody saw anything or heard anything," Wright said.

She and her husband, Darrell, an employee at Castellini Co. in Wilder, have gone as far as Indianapolis and Maysville looking for Elvis.

"We've called slaughterhouses - one in Illinois, and two in Texas," she said. "Some would talk, and others wouldn't."

She said she also called a horse auction in Shipshewana, Ind., where the auction owner took Elvis' description and said he would keep an eye out.

Wright said Elvis - who got his name when her husband noticed his tendency to shake his head a lot as a yearling - is copper-colored with a white mark on his forehead, a pink spot on his nose, and white on his left back leg up to his knee.

Elvis didn't like going off by himself, but he'd go along with another horse, Wright said.

Ed Butler, assistant chief of the Kenton County Police Department, said the department takes stolen-horse reports seriously.

"We've even worked stolen goats, sheep, dogs," he said. "We do what we can to locate (the animal) in a reasonable time."

Butler said that, because of the large rural population in the county, the department gets more reports of missing or loose animals than stolen animals.

"But we do investigate any report," he said.

He said the officer in the Wrights' case did not see evidence, however, that the horse was stolen.

The Wrights have turned to Stolen Horse International, a nonprofit company set up to find and recover missing or stolen horses.

Owner Debi Metcalfe said the company was started in 1997 when her horse was stolen and she couldn't find much help or support online.

Since then, the company has grown into a network of people across the United States, including volunteers who distribute fliers and information on lost or stolen horses.

"We issue Idaho Alerts," Metcalfe said, "which is like an Amber Alert for horses."

The Idaho Alert is named for a white mare that was stolen and recovered when the company first got its start.

Metcalfe said information on the missing horse is distributed through e-mails and then passed on to those in the horse industry and to those who visit horse auctions.

"Many horses have been found that way," Metcalfe said, citing the company's recovery rate of 51 percent last year.

About 55,000 horses are stolen each year in the United States, with many thought to be sold at auction and slaughtered for meat, according to the American Horse Protection Association.

Wright said she's been getting e-mails from people as far away as New York and Wyoming who are posting fliers of Elvis.

"It's not just people around here helping," she said.

Aly, who has been riding a horse since she was 18 months old, according to her mother, was scheduled to "walk trot" Elvis next week at a horse show in Ohio.

"She says her prayers at night and asks God and the angels to help her find him," her mother said. "She's heartbroken. ... On the way to school, she looked out the window and said she was watching the fields for Elvis, and said, 'Mommy, we're going to find him.' "


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