Authorities Looking for Suspects Who Strangled a Horse

- MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -  Authorities are trying to catch the people who they say strangled a horse in Martinsburg.

Catnip is a retired polo horse. She's blind in one eye, and her owners call her a very sweet girl. That's what has them scratching their heads over why people, the sheriff believes are teenagers, would put a noose around her neck and almost strangled her to death.

Monday was a nightmare for horse lover Kija Wilson when she heard something terrible from her neighbor.

"He indicated that he saw two approximate teenagers trespassing on the farm and that there may have been something around one of our horse's necks," said Wilson, Catnip's owner.

"Two boys in the area, they were about 5' 6," 5' 7," white males, dark hair, were seen running away from where the horse was," Berkeley County Sheriff Kenny Lemaster said.

Lemaster said the suspects put a towing strap around Catnip's neck Monday afternoon at the family's farm along Shepherdstown Road.. It was so tight, it had to be cut off with a razor.

Catnip's tongue is still hanging out, which is making it very hard for her to drink. She also still has some of the ligature marks around her neck.

"I actually cried," Wilson said. "It was very sad to see her. She just looked really pathetic and was dripping sweat. Her eyes were both watering, so it looked like she was crying, and that was sad to watch as well."

Sheriff Lemaster and Catnip's owner have strong words for the people who left her in this condition.

"If you do something, and you do put a rope around a horse's neck, even if you're not intending to do any kind of damage, you should have the decency to tell the owner, to call the animal control, or alert somebody that there is something that may have gone awry," Wilson said.

"I don't know if their intent was to strangle the horse," Lemaster said. "The result of course is the fact that the horse may succumb to its injuries."

Catnip's owners are hanging up fliers throughout Martinsburg and offering a reward for an arrest in this case. They say catnip is about 50 percent better but may have to be put to sleep if the swelling in her tongue doesn't go down.

If you have any information, call the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office at (304) 267-7000 or the Berkeley County Crime Solvers at (304) 267-4999.

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