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$10,000 reward offered in shooting of 2 horses


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POSTED: Sunday, July 12, 2009

Earl, a retired champion rope horse, and Buddy, a 5-year-old quarterhorse, were mysteriously shot last week in a Kapaia, Kauai pasture, leaving one dead and the other injured.

At 7:30 a.m. Thursday, owner Ben Ellsworth found Buddy shot in the face and standing over Earl, who was lying down in the pasture with a fatal wound to his side.

“;I have no idea who”; shot the horses, said Andrea Ellsworth. “;I don't think it was personal. I think it was probably random.”;

Kauai Humane Society Executive Director Rebecca Rhoades said police believe the horses were shot with a high-powered rifle, judging from the size of the bullets removed from the animals.

The group is offering a $10,000 reward for tips that lead to the arrest and conviction of the shooter.

Earl, who is more than 20 years old, was a champion rope horse, “;who won lots of money for lots of people,”; and was retired to the Ellsworths' ranch a year ago to spend his golden years, Ellsworth said.

The Ellsworths raise, train and breed horses as a hobby, and own 11 remaining horses who live on 40 acres of pastureland.

But Buddy was special.

“;We've raised Buddy since he was a baby,”; Andrea Ellsworth said. “;He was born in my mom's front yard in California. He was a gift to my husband from my mom.”;

“;He's very much a part of the family,”; she said. “;He was totally untrained. We spend twice a day every day with him. We spend most of our money and most of our time with our horses.”;

The equines were not visible from the road, in a pasture behind two different locked gates, down a half-mile of cane-haul road, and about 10 minutes from the Ellsworths' home.

Ellsworth said she hopes police catch the killer.

“;I just want to be able to sleep at night,”; she said.

Earl was fatally shot in the upper chest above the shoulder, the bullet going through the trachea and lung and causing him to bleed into his lungs, Rhoades said.

Buddy was shot right below the eye, and the bullet ricocheted and got lodged in his cheekbone, she said.

County spokeswoman Mary Daubert said the investigation is ongoing and police declined to comment.

This was Kauai's second recent incident involving fatal gunshot wounds to animals.

“;Most recently we experienced a couple of monks seals shot, which was tragic,”; Rhodes said, referring to the deaths of a 4-year-old monk seal shot in the water at Kaumakani Beach, and a pregnant seal shot on the North Shore. “;I have no idea why someone would shoot these horses. It's a very serious crime.”;

Rhodes said whoever is doing this is “;a scary guy and we need to get him. The community needs to help. It's violence whether it's towards animals or towards people.”;

Veterinarian Scott Sims had quickly responded to the injured animals and was able to remove the bullet from Buddy's face and stitch him up.

Sims, who along with Rhoades, performed the necropsy on the dead animal, recovered the bullet from Earl.