Injured horse raises animal abuse suspicions

Pepper, the Panzer family horse (Courtesy: Nikie Panzer)

LEWIS, Kan. (KSNW) – Investigators in Edwards County are looking into a possible case of animal cruelty. It comes after a couple in Lewis discovered their horse had a terrible injury they couldn’t explain.

It was a shocking sight for Gary Panzer.

“Oh man I was sick,” he said. “Oh gosh I was just sick.”

His 12-year-old horse, Pepper, had a terrible injury.

You can still see the dried blood in the barn, splattered from there the injury likely occurred.

“Evidently, somebody came in here and stabbed him with a pipe, the way he looked,” said Panzer.

Pepper’s jaw was broken and there was considerable damage to his muscles and tendons.

“The wound was perfectly round right there and then just went in there and broke that whole mandible,” said Panzer.

He and his wife Nikie were told they could have tried costly surgeries to possibly save Pepper, but they thought their best option was to put him down.

“Their option was to go ahead and do the best thing they could for that horse at that time and that was to take him out of his pain,” said Dr. Nels Lindberg, the family’s veterinarian.

The horse was being housed on their property, and Lindberg says it’s unlikely that the wound was self-inflicted.

The sheriff believes it’s a case of animal cruelty and is treating it as such.

“Whether we find out that it was some type of an accident or if we can catch someone and prosecute them for the act,” said Edwards County Sheriff Bryant Kurth, “we’ll treat it as an intentional act until we know differently.”

The family is struggling to move on.

“Hard to lose a family member,” said Panzer. “We’ve had him that long.”

The sheriff says he has a few names of people he plans to question. From there, he’s not sure how the investigation will unfold.

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