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Deadly horse injuries under investigation in Dunn County

By: WEAU 13 News Staff Email
By: WEAU 13 News Staff Email

MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) -- DUNN COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) -- "It's still difficult and the hardest part is not knowing why or who," said Tammy Dahlby.

She has lived everyday for the past three months with uncertainty, not knowing for sure what happened to her horse, Leo, this summer.

"The horse community is outraged that someone could go to such lengths and be so cruel," she said.

The Dunn County Sheriff's Dept. believes that on July 15th someone brought Leo into an office at a training facility near Colfax.

Sheriff Dennis Smith, who has horses himself, says the tight space could cause a horse to panic.

"He bumps something behind him, tips it over, that makes a noise, he jumps, hits something else and pretty soon he's going everywhere and he's causing himself a lot of injuries," he said.

Leo ended up with severe injuries that day and eventually had to be put down. Right now, Smith says the problem has been getting enough evidence to make an arrest.

"If we do find out who it might be, it's a case where we have to get enough information to convict them," he said.

He says the evidence is clear that Leo was injured - and it is likely someone would have had to walk him up the stairs to the office, since he says horses would not usually go up a set of stairs by themselves.

He adds that the horse was allegedly found out by a driveway and someone brought it back to a stall. He is hoping that person can contact the Dunn County Sheriff's Dept.

Tammy Dahlby says the support has been outpouring but most of all she is just hoping for some answers.

"I would like to have closure on this and put it to rest, and without those questions being answered that's hard to do," Dahlby said.

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Investigators are trying to figure out how a horse named Leo was severely injured almost three months ago, and eventually had to be put down.

The horse's owner, Tammy Dahlby of Elk Mound, had to put Leo down two days after Leo was injured in July. About a month ago, she offered a reward of $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for the injuries to Leo. So far, she says nothing has come of it. "There's people out there that know what happened," she said, "but nobody will talk."

"We know for sure, by the evidence, what went on," she said, "but we don't know who or why."

On July 15, Sheriff Dennis Smith says the Dunn County Sheriff's Department took a report of the incident. It happened on a property on County Road B, west of State Highway 40, which is near Colfax. Smith believes the horse was led into an office that's raised multiple steps off the ground. He says whoever did it got the horse to go crazy, trash the office, and go through a wall. Smith says the horse then fell, and hit either a gate or fence.

Dahlby says Leo was at the facility near Colfax for training and showing. She says on July 14, she found out something was wrong from her trainer, who had found the horse in a different stall. She says the trainer called didn't know what had happened, but that all the hair and skin was gone from Leo's face, and he was scraped up. The trainer told Dahlby that Leo wouldn't eat or drink, and was just standing quietly. She went to get Leo on Monday morning, and the trainer showed her the office, which had been destroyed. Dahlby says Leo could hardly walk or stand when she brought him home. A veterinarian found that Leo had extensive head, neck, and back injuries, and his hip joints were dislocated. Dahlby says she believes Leo also had internal injuries. After trying to give him fluids and medicine, a vet told Dahlby that anything more that they would do for Leo "would probably prolong it." She made the decision to put Leo down on July 16.

Dahlby's friends helped her raise funds at a horse show, and she was able to pay the vet bills and get money for the reward. She says Leo was a show horse, and would have been the future of her breeding program. Dahlby says the horse community is really up in arms about what happened to Leo, and she's heard from supporters from Africa, England, Germany, and all over the United States. A Facebook group called "Fight for Leo" also has more than 900 members.

"This was a really heinous crime," she said.

Smith says his department has not closed the case. He says he believes a group of people may have been involved in the incident, but he's not sure that the department can prove it yet. Smith says he can't think of any motivation to lead a horse into a raised office, unless it was to trash the office, or as a prank. If anyone has information on what happened, they're asked to call the Dunn County Sheriff's Office at (715) 232-1348.


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