Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Justice for Roy

EDIT 12/30/16: I have added more pictures and information from this article.
You can read the first-hand account of Humane Officer Nanci Olson here.
Here's one appalling excerpt from that report:


Hey folks, I'm still alive. I know, I know, it's been over a year since I last posted. But here's what got me off my ass and back here typing away:
 That's Roy.

Roy escaped from his swampy paddock on Sunday, September 25th 2016. A kind women named Wendy Savage spotted him wandering down highway 80, near Babcock, WI, and informed authorities.

Obviously, Roy was desperate for food and water, having been starved for a prolonged period. But you know what he wanted more than those things? After spending months and months covered in rain rot, slowly wasting away, enduring hunger pains, his suffering ignored by his owners, I don't think what Roy wanted nourishment as much as something else...

Roy didn't want to die alone.

Roy could have escaped his torture earlier. But he was a good boy.
He stayed in his muddy, moldy, lonely pen for a very long time. Only at the very end did he try to leave. Only in his last days, when he was a walking skeleton, did he break out.

Roy lived for six days after escaping from his private slice of hell. During those six days, he was lovingly cared for by Midwest Horse Welfare, who took him in and tried their absolute hardest to help him. Midwest has successfully rehabilitated starving horses before, using a painstaking around-the-clock care regimen. Roy got small meals of heated, watery, alfalfa mush* for his starved and dehydrated body many times each day. He was seen several times by an excellent veterinarian, Dr. Gary Johnson of Plover, who rated his body condition score 1 out of 9 (and that "was generous"). Roy's teeth, heart, and blood were checked. Roy got little walks in the sunshine, to try to keep him motivated. (They were very short because his body had literally consumed most of its own muscle tissue for sustenance, so Roy had trouble moving.) Most of all, Roy got loved. For six days, he was pampered, petted, brushed. For six days, he heard friendly voices, felt gentle touches, saw that he was among people who cared, and knew that he was not alone.

On the last day, Roy lay down and could not, or would not, get up again. He was euthanized peacefully, surrounded by love.

If there's a tear in your eye right now, that's good. It hurts, but it's important. It means you have empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Having empathy, recognizing what others have gone through, is what makes us moral beings.

What, then, should we do with people who do not have empathy? What should we do about Roy's owners?

Roy's owners were not elderly. They were not sick. They were not poor. They have a nice house, nice cars. They had no valid excuse (if there are any) to let Roy suffer this way.

As for Roy, there was nothing medically wrong with him that caused him to starve. He was a healthy older horse with a big appetite. Dr. Gary Johnson of Plover found no underlying cause that would have contributed to Roy's slow, horrific transformation into a walking skeleton. Even if Roy had had a medical issue, his owners could have euthanized him instead of letting him starve to death. There is no reason for a horse to end up like this.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, Roy's owners failed him. They allowed him to suffer, right in their backyard. It took a very long time for Roy to get this thin, and during that time, there were many things his owners could have done. They could have gotten help, surrendered Roy, or even just shot him. Anything would have been better than what they did-- which was absolutely nothing. They ate their own suppers a few hundred feet from where Roy stood in stinking mud, and left him to languish.

Roy's owners should be charged with neglect.
So far, they haven't been.
They have also been allowed to keep a second horse on their property.


It's not for lack of evidence against them. Everything the Wood County prosecutor needs, he has. He has photographs, expert testimony, and every possible page of documentation from the veterinarian who treated Roy. These files have been on his desk since October.

Several people attempted to call the Wood County District Attorney's Office in order to voice their concerns that no charges had been filed in this case. What they got was snubbed, brushed off, dismissed. Here's one example of how those conversations went:

After many weeks of watching the Wood County DA's office do nothing, supporters of Roy have begun a campaign to bring public attention to this matter. The movement "Justice for Roy" was started, and people are starting to take notice. WSAW-7 News recently did a story, which you can find here.

YOU can help! Tell the Wood County DA's office that animal neglect is a serious crime, and Roy's owners should be prosecuted.

Call, write, or email the guy in charge of prosecuting this case!
Be polite, be professional, but be firm.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Zell
his boss,
District Attorney Craig Lambert
Phone number: 715-421-8515


Snail Mail:
Wood County District Attorney's Office
PO Box 8095
Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54495
Let's make 2017 a better year.You can read more about Roy here and here, on Midwest Horse Welfare's message board.

Midwest Horse Welfare is an excellent Wisconsin horse rescue organization, with a 16+ year history of helping horses like Roy. Please consider donating to this reputable, state-inspected, GFAS sanctioned, registered 501c3 non-profit. Your donations go directly to help horses in need. The rescue owners are not paid for their incredibly hard work.

*Horses that have been starved to the point of death must be fed very slowly, very carefully, in order to prevent "re-feeding syndrome," where the body is so far gone, it can be easily overwhelmed by even a little too much food, or the wrong kind of food. This phenomenon occurs in humans as well as horses. Many Holocaust concentration camp survivors died from re-feeding syndrome after being liberated and nursed by Allied soldiers.
 Learn more about re-feeding syndrome in horses at this link: 


  1. I bet if she was having sex with the horse it might bring on more attention and charges. I realize being busy but to let this type of issue go on with no charges only shows to the public eye it is okay. How mm any more animals will need to suffer before something us done. Sad ��

  2. Does a Canadian comment count? I hope so as this is simultaneously disgusting, infuriating and heartbreaking. Thank God Roy did not die alone in his moldy swamp. Thank God he was surrounded by comfort, warmth and love. Animal welfare laws world wide simply are not tough enough!

  3. NO excuse for this assistant prosecuting attorney for failing to file charges against Roy's owner. This situation is disgusting. I will continue to share this story. I live in Arkansas and I am pretty sure this story will be known from the East to West coast. And Michael Zell is making his office look like a kangaroo court.

    1. I live in northern mn it's been shared here..

  4. Why are they allowed to keep the other horse?

  5. This is sick... make his owners pay for the horrible death they put him through.. as a horse community we need to push.. push for him and his stable mate..

  6. I sent an email to Craig Lambert. I am heart sick that this poor horse had to go through that. Even more sickened to think that no one in authority will do anything to make these people pay for their cruelty. They need to be publicly shamed and prosecuted. They should never be allowed to have any animal again.