Horse theft is a crime that is alive and thriving in the U.S. today. Thousands of horses go missing each year. With the help of volunteers through Stolen Horse International (aka NetPosse.com), many horses are recovered. There is even hope for victims like Michelle Pool, whose horse was stolen almost 10 years ago.
Pool filed a report in March 2003 for Opie, her spotted American Saddlebred stolen from her father’s pasture on Highway 181 in San Antonio, Texas. Shortly after she reported the theft to Stolen Horse International, Opie’s webpage was put on the NetPosse website and NetPosse Alerts were sent to thousands of readers.
But Opie was not anywhere in sight.
As the years passed, Pool never quit thinking of Opie and wondering what happened to him.
“We got Sultan’s Modern Opus (nickname “Opie”) when he was just 16 monthsold. He came to live with us in Red Oak, outside of Dallas, and we loved him from day one,” says Pool. “I still remember having to explain [Opie's theft] to two small children and a teenager who loved him.”
After almost ten years, Pool and her children do not have to wonder anymore. On July 30, 2012, a tipster called Stolen Horse International to report an ad she’d seen on Craigslist. Interested in buying the horse, she first checked NetPosse.com to see if he was listed as stolen. He was. Upon receiving the news, Debi Metcalfe, president and founder of the nonprofit organization, found the Pools in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Michelle Pool got the phone call she had given up hope of ever receiving: “I was in shock and part of me did not believe it at first because I had been let down so many times. But Debi was sure it was Opie.”
With Pool on the phone, Metcalfe emailed her pictures of Opie from the Craig’s List ad and heard her gasp as the pictures came into view.
“Oh my God! I never thought I’d see him again!” Pool cried. “Look! It is really him!” she exclaimed to her children, who were sitting with her at the computer.
After talking with Pool, Metcalfe organized her notes and notified the Dayton County Sheriff’s Office, while Pool called the Bexar County Sheriff’s office. Hours later, Metcalfe called the TSCRA Ranger who was assigned to the case and gave him the particulars. He and a Dayton County Deputy went to the residence where Opie was and seized the horse.
This should have been the end of a painful journey for the Pool family. Michelle Pool looked forward to being able to show her children that there are good people in the world and that Opie would be home soon.
“Opie was picked up by Jimmy Belt (TSCRA) and Missy Watson (Dayton County Sheriff’s Office) and I will see him, kiss his face and blow in his nose soon,” she said. “The shattered dreams I had are being p glued together with the help of two AMAZING people–the tipster and Debi with Stolen Horse International.”
But the story does not end there. Opie was seized in the early morning hours of July 31, but from an unsuspecting family who has had him and loved him since November 2003. They did not know he had been stolen and, even though they were selling him, they were looking for just the right home for him.
When someone takes a horse either by theft or by “civil” theft, a domino effect often begins. In this case there are three victims: the family that owned him when he was stolen, the family that has had him since 2003–and, of course, Opie, who is now caught in the middle.
The emotions are high in both families–and the tipster.
Did the tipster do the right thing by contacting Stolen Horse International? Absolutely! The organization found the owner and broke the news. They put together information that law enforcement needed to recover Opie for the victim. Did law enforcement do the right thing? Absolutely! At the time of seizure no one knew if Opie would be there the next day, since he was on Craigslist for sale. No one knew if the people who had him were bad people or good people. Thank goodness for Opie it was the latter. He has had a good life with his family since 2003. The investigation continues as to the thieves who stole Opie.
Stolen Horse International is thankful to the woman who thought to check out the horse on NetPossse.com before she bought hm. She was able to help right a wrong that took place almost 10 years ago.
Of course, the story is bittersweet. Even though the family was selling Opie, this has opened new wounds for them even as old wounds are starting to heal for the Pools.