Thursday, September 18, 2008


"GUILTY -- a delicious word, so much more satisfying than french fries!"
- Anonymous reader comment

TEN POUNDS OVERWEIGHT, I sat yesterday in my Suburban in the parking lot of Burger King, trying to overcome a rare urge to eat french fries. I'd been stacking 110 pound hay bales all day, and was exhausted. I estimated I'd moved nearly 5,000 pounds of hay, all by myself. Surely I'd burned enough calories to cheat, just this once?

I was seriously contemplating fried food when the cell phone rang. It was Dr. Miller. I had been waiting anxiously to hear about the outcome of the hearing of Argus' former owner.

"Guilty!!!" Dr. Miller announced proudly, "She's guilty of two counts of felony animal cruelty."

Argus' former owner (let's call her the FO) had waived her right to a trial in favor of an open hearing where a judge would decide her fate. Last Friday, September 12, justice was at last served. The FO will not serve jail time. She will, however, serve three years of probation and she may not own animals during this period.

And what about Sammy, Destiny, Athena and Starmaker -- the four remaining horses? The FO has 30 days to sell them or give them away. But don't panic!! Any new home must be approved by the director of Animal Services, AND they must go back to court to seek court approval for a specific new owner. Basically, they've made it extremely difficult for the FO to dispose of the horses improperly. She may NOT sell them for slaughter, and she may not euthanize them. The local auction yard, rendering pickup man, and slaughter buyers have all been informed that these four horses are protected under court order.

Everyone is hoping and praying that the 30 days will pass quickly, because at the end of that period (October 13), the FO must surrender the horses to Animal Services, who will in turn surrender them to the Sonoma CHANGE Program.

Arrangements are being made for temporary foster care, but these horses need loving, permanent adoptors waiting in the wings. Are you in a position to give one of these horses a forever home??? All four horses are tame, friendly, and were once ridden and shown. They are heavier type Arabians, or Trakehner/Arabian crosses. All are in their teens or early 20s. Please contact me at if you would like information about adopting one of these sweet horses.

So many people have worked so hard on this case. Many thanks go to Dr. Grant Miller, the Sonoma CHANGE Program, Sonoma County Animal Care & Control, the district attorney who worked so hard on this case (she's a blog reader now, too), and the commissioner who decided it was time for justice. Thanks, too, go to all the neighbors and concerned citizens who kept up the heat.

Today, I drove by the FO's filthy property. I could see all four horses from the street. Two are out in pasture, and two are locked in the mare motel. They are beautiful horses, three dark and one gray. A friendly bay gelding with a wide blaze and a swollen sheath limped along toward me, nickering softly. His dull eyes were puffy from flies. We were less than ten feet apart. "Just three more weeks," I whispered as he looked at me, "we will get you out of here buddy, I promise."

Most of the horses look heavy, with fat, cresty necks and lumpy bodies. They have probably foundered in the past. Since all four have been owned by the FO for many years, they have likely never received regular deworming or hoof care. We do not kow how sound they will be. They certainly have not been fed properly! In the mare motel, I saw rotting produce and a dirty plastic bag in one horse's feeder.

It was hard to drive away. As I did, I looked in my rear view mirror. The bay with the blaze watched me solemnly as I disappeared from sight.


For those who keep asking about Odie and MythBusters, we still do not have an air date! I have been asked to check back in early October. The show will not air before November. I will post a date as soon as I know!


Thank you for all your beautiful words and warm wishes on our adoption of Argus. We are lucky people to have such an amazing creature like Argus in our lives. We are also lucky people to have such tender-hearted people, all over this beautiful planet, who share Argus with us. Thank you!

Some have asked what they can do to help with the ongoing cost of keeping Argus. Please consider making a charitable donation to the Sonoma CHANGE Program or another animal welfare organization. The CHANGE Program subsists solely on donations, which stretch far since Dr. Miller donates so much of his time to the program. If Argus' sister and her brothers are brought into the program, as we hope they will, CHANGE will need some assistance with the cost of their care until they are adopted.

Helping animals in need does not have to involve donations, either. PLEASE, if you see an animal in need, pick up the phone and call your local Animal Control department, and report it! Follow up on your call, and don't give up!


Anonymous said...

GUILTY a delicious word, so much more satisfying than french fries!

THANK GOODNESS for Katie, Dr. Grant Miller, the Sonoma CHANGE Program, Sonoma County Animal Care & Control, the district attorney, the commissioner, the neighbors and concerned citizens who kept up the heat.

Anonymous said...

Sweet music to my ears! G-U-I-L-T-Y!!
Many thanks to all who fought so hard for these horses, especially Dr. Miller. I will definately send in a donation to Sonoma CHANGE Program. Prayers that these 4 remaining horses will find happiness very soon.

Thanks for the update about Odie and Mythbusters. Looking forward to more updates about sweet Argus and his pals!

Blessing to you, and all at Watermark Farms.


pchoofinit said...

I am so glad she's guilty. BUT I am so damned mad she doesn't spend time in jail. Even 30 days would be something, no wheres the 16 yrs Argus spent. And she would get treated better as a criminal in jail then he got. I am sorry, there is NOT enough punishment for these itiots. NOT ENOUGH.
Well, I am sure you feel some relief now, Katie.
God Bless you.
Patti C. CT.

Katie said...

>>>>I am so damned mad she doesn't spend time in jail<<<<

If you saw where she lived, and how pitiful her life is, you'd see that she is already in a kind of prison.

She is in her 70s, one reason why did was not sentenced to jail time. Even felony animal abusers are rarely sentenced to time behind bars.

PaintedPromise said...

YES!!!!!!!! {imagine please this being shouted at the top of my lungs as i dance around my computer chair with joy}

i do agree it's not enough but at least the others will be out of there soon...

Susan said...

Today, guilty is a beautiful word. It doesn't seem fair that those horses have to endure even one more day in hell. I hope that word spreads fast and wide and no one will take those horses in the next 4 weeks.

Thanks for the update Katie.

dawdler said...

Yay! Two happy endings!

Kim said...


I love it when the animals are the winners in these cases. Everyones hard work really paid off.

I will pray for a speedy release for the other 4 remaining horses.

sunbake said...

I am glad to hear that she was found guilty, but I'm still at a loss as to why the court did not order her into some type of pyschological treatment/assessment program.

You've said she lives in her own type of prison.... I'm in no way excusing her actions towards the horses on her property, but I think this is just a surface treatment. Banning ownership for 3years doesn't mean she won't start the cycle again in year 4.

At the 4 remaining horses will get a glimpse of freedom and a better life - if they can just hold on and maintain their sanity like Agrus did!!

On a happier note - we're all still looking forward to more Argus stories :)

sunbake said...

meant to say... "At least the 4 remaining horses..."

Holly said...

whoosh.....I was holding my breath as I read this post. The wheels of justice do not always turn fast but at least in this case, they have turned in the right direction.

I hope the 30 days goes by quickly also

equestrian_librarian said...

What perfect timing for justice to be served. It does sound like she lives in her own prison -- the important thing is that the horses will get a second chance at life and the opportunity to enjoy healthy retirements as horses. And I had to laugh about your french fry cravings -- I can totally relate!

Looking forward to reading more Argus updates and updates on the adoptions of his "siblings".

Anonymous said...

WhooHoo! Congratulations to all of you who were involved in the rescue of Argus and friend and prosecution of his former owner! What great news!
May Argus and Katie have a wonder life! (This story would make a great book.)

Anonymous said...

So...Did you forget all about the fries after the call? ;D I think I would have done a dance after hearing that news!

It's incredibly sad though that she'll probably cling to those horses for the entire month, instead of finding them a home. Or are they going into fosterage before then?


Faith said...

it's about time!

so happy to hear the news.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful to hear the latest news! May Argus and his friends have a long and loving life.

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading the entire blog. this is great news and congrdulations on your adopting Argus!

Original L said...

Yippee! What a relief - I can't wait 'till those horses are safe and as happy as Argus!

By the way, I gave your blog an award.

Suzanne said...


kbryan said...

You and Argus need to write a book about the rest of his life. There are some beautiful revelations and lessons to be learned. The book will beg a movie on so many levels.

Thank you for saving this horse and sharing his pain, your pain, and trimpths with us. Your work with Argus and his like, speak volumes about your character.

Thank you. Thank you.