Reporting Rachel Slavik
BELLE PLAINE, Minn. (WCCO) — There’s an old saying about cats having nine lives. A horse in Belle Plaine is living up to that same theory.
Deke, a thoroughbred racing horse, is recovering from a gunshot to the face and that isn’t his only brush with death.
When Angela Sniffin bought Deke nearly three years ago, the idea was for him to quietly live out his days in a Belle Plaine pasture.
“We had plans for a great retirement for him, lots of walking and trail riding,” said Sniffin, Deke’s owner.
On Sunday morning, Angela discovered that someone invaded Deke’s peaceful retreat.
“This is an entrance for the first bullet on the side of his face,” said Sniffin, as she pointed out one of the horse’s injuries.
Two bullet marks near his neck showed Deke was on the receiving end of a small caliber handgun. At first, Sniffin thought it was an accident. Then, she noticed another horse she owned, Buddy, had a gunshot wound to his leg.
“It’s pointing at someone deliberately shooting them for sport,” said Sniffin.
To say Deke is lucky is a bit of an understatement. In 2009, the thoroughbred escaped the slaughterhouse when his racing days ended and his hind legs show the scars of another serious injury.
Deke survived what the veterinarian believed was a cougar attack.
“That took a long time of medication and perseverance and getting him through that,” said Sniffin.
“Most people, as soon as vet bills add up or feed bills, they discard horses,” said Jen Hungerford, a friend of Sniffin’s.
For Sniffin, giving up on her horse was never an option.
“We’ve been through a lot together and he knows I’m going to do what it takes. What’s in his best interest to make sure he’s ok,” said Sniffin.
If anything, she believes his setbacks have strengthened their bond.
“I think he’s going to make it to a nice old retirement age. He’s a tough horse,” said Sniffin.
Sniffin even took on a second job to pay the vet bills rather than get rid of her horse. The Scott County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting.