May 28, 2004 – A thoroughbred horse that sustained burns over 35 percent of its body on Tuesday after being set on fire was awaiting medication on Friday that was coming from the States.
Paul Chakroff, executive director of the St. Croix Animal Shelter, said on Friday that the medication was being airlifted to the territory. At $650 it's not cheap, however, and Chakroff is hoping that community residents and organizations will offer financial assistance to the shelter and the horse.
"We've ordered the medication in the belief that we will get the financial assistance," he said.
In the meantime, police had few leads to report Friday in their search for the person or persons responsible for setting the horse, Xavier Alexander, afire. But St. Croix Deputy Police Chief Herminio Velazquez said his office intends to continue its investigation into the matter.
And Minut Sanden, an assistant attorney general in charge of prosecuting domestic violence cases, said she is prepared to go all the way, if charges are brought and if she ends up being assigned to the case.
The incident, which took place in Estate Grove Place, was not the first time the horse had to be rescued, according to Chakroff. He said the animal had to be pulled out of a cistern a few months earlier. It was unclear whether the animal was under the care of the same individual at that time.
Sanden went to see the horse as soon as she was told about the incident, which was initially reported to police by Dr. David Martinez, a veterinarian with the V.I. Agriculture Department. "It was really sad," she said. "The horse kept looking at his burns like he didn't know what was there and why it hurt so much."
Sanden took part in the Caribbean Animal Welfare Conference held at the Buccaneer Hotel last week and is avid about getting the laws changed to protect animals from cruelty. "We are serious," she said, "and if the rest of the community is serious, call your senator."
She was referring to an animal rights bill introduced by Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg which is awaiting amendment in Sen. Lorraine Berry's Public Safety, Judiciary, Homeland Security and Justice Committee. The measure, which makes animal abuse a felony, has languished in one committee or another after being defeated on the Senate floor three years ago.
Sanden called Tuesday's act of animal abuse "cowardly," adding, "We don't want to be identified as people who condone this behavior."
Chakroff said a human being burned to the degree that the horse is probably would not survive.
Because the animal is a tattooed thoroughbred, he is hoping that one of the thoroughbred horse associations stateside might come to its rescue financially.
A conviction of animal cruelty under current law carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and a year in jail, Sanden said. She added that if the horse incident ends up in court, "I hope it is my case."
Anyone who wishes to help with the cost for caring for the horse can contact Chakroff by e-mailing to Paul Chakroff or by calling the St. Croix Animal Shelter at 778-1650.
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