By Alexandra Mester
DELTA, Ohio (Toledo Blade) — A Fulton County woman is desperate to find her three horses that were stolen from their pasture last week.
Natalie Chvala went to her Swancreek Township pasture off County Road 5 to find the electric fence cut and her horses gone. She noticed boot and shoe prints, trailer-tire tracks, and cracked corn — which she never feeds her animals — on the ground inside and outside the pasture. The horses’ lead lines were also taken.
“There’s no question that it was definitely theft,” Ms. Chvala said Monday.
The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office took a report and opened an investigation. Det. Aaron Gladieux said there’s no update yet.
“We’ve had a couple tips and we’re trying to track them down, but nothing solid yet,” he said.
Ms. Chvala does not live on the property, but visits daily to care for the horses. The parcel is landlocked, set back behind other properties that use a shared private lane. Her parcel is not visible from the county road, so whomever stole them either had been told the horses were there or had visited neighboring properties at some time.
“I don’t bring people to my property,” Ms. Chvala said. “My boyfriend and I are the only people who go there.”
She said she also can’t think of anyone she knows who would have a motive to steal her horses, and a neighbor reportedly saw a silver pickup truck pulling a white and silver trailer at her property the evening of July 13.
Detective Gladieux said reports of horses or livestock being stolen in Fulton County are relatively rare. He estimated the sheriff’s office handles just a couple of cases every few years.
“I’ve been here 25 years and it’s not a very common thing that I’m aware of,” he said.
Theft of companion animals like dogs is much more common, in part because stealing farm animals is generally more difficult and requires equipment like large vehicles or trailers, he said.
Ms. Chvala has been reaching out to rescues and other organizations across the Midwest and beyond, trying to prevent her three equines from being sold or auctioned. She and others are monitoring social media, Craigslist, various sale sites, and other places hoping to find them.
“Absolutely anything I can do, I’m doing it,” she said. “They could be anywhere.”
As of late Monday afternoon, Ms. Chvala’s initial post to her Facebook page has been shared more than 86,000 times and has garnered more than 6,000 comments. Family and friends are helping her continue to comb through comments and messages, looking for leads.
“It’s unreal,” she said. “I never had any idea that that many people would respond and share all over the country.”
The three horses can be ridden but have been pasture pets for several years after Ms. Chvala was injured and can no longer ride.
“I just want my babies back,” she said. “I’ve had them for years. They’ve been together forever and are very attached to each other.”
Dawn is a white mustang mare, estimated at 14 to 15 hands high and 16 to 18 years old, with subtle liver-colored ticking, a thick and wavy mane, and a faint number tattoo under her mane on the left side of her neck.
Sugar is a red and white quarter-paint cross mare, estimated at 14 to 15 hands high and 16 to 18 years old. She is arthritic and walks with a limp, for which she needs ongoing medication.
Whiskey is a black and white paint mare, estimated at 14 to 15 hands high and 16 to 18 years old. Her right nostril is misshapen and her left eyelid may have suture marks after previous injuries were treated.
More detailed descriptions and photos of the horses’ specific markings can be found on Ms. Chvala’s reports at netposse.com.
Information or possible sightings should be reported to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office at 419-335-4010 or Fulton County Crime Stopper at 800-255-1122. Tips can also be sent to Natalie Chvala through a Facebook message or by emailing email@example.com.
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