Horses hit with BBs

Denise Waterman,14, inspects a BB wound on her horse, Cow Girl. Several of the Watermans
Denise Waterman,14, inspects a BB wound on her horse, Cow Girl. Several of the Watermans' horses have been shot with a BB gun in the last several weeks.
— image credit: Gayle Saran

Someone is shooting horses with BBs in Clinton.

The horses belong to Denise and Donna Waterman and are kept in a pasture at the their grandmother's home on Humphrey Road in Clinton.

During the last three weeks, several of the nine horses have been hit with BBs.

BBs from an air-powered gun may not be deadly, but they are dangerous and cause for concern. One of the shootings was especially disturbing because a pellet became embedded beneath the skin of one of the horses.

The girls' mother, Diana Waterman said the shooters are hurting the horses more seriously than they may realize.

"When we walked into the pasture and saw blood flowing out of the wound, we were all very, very upset."

They were able to dig the BB out of the horse's side and treat it with an anti-bacteria ointment, but the family is still concerned. Several of the other horses had small wounds where they had been hit, but the BBs had not penetrated the skin.

Waterman contacted Island County Sheriff's Office. Carol Barnes, the county's animal control officer was sent to investigate.

Barnes said she hopes to find the shooter.

"If found, the person doing this could be charged with animal cruelty in the second degree and, if convicted, could do jail time and or receive a $1,000 fine," she said.

Barnes said she hopes neighbors in the area will be on the lookout for anything that doesn't look quite right. In the meantime, she is continuing her investigation.

For Denise Waterman, this situation is aggravating because it is working against her efforts to a new horse named Cow Girl.

"I've been working with Cow Girl, she's a wonderful horse," she said. "But I am afraid this will set us back in the training by making her distrust humans."

The BBs are not necessarily the most dangerous aspect of the shootings. Large animal veterinarian Robert Moody, who practices in Oak Harbor, said the shootings could cause the frightened horses to seriously hurt themselves.

"Because horses are flight animals they can become frightened and run into a fence or some other obstruction," he said. "If the pellet does penetrate, infection becomes an issue because the bacteria on the skin gets int the tissue. Hitting the horse in an eye can cause blindness."

Denise and Donna Waterman are members of the Whidbey Western Games Association and regularly compete in a number of horseback riding events.

Anyone with information about the shootings is encouraged to call the sheriff's office at 321-5111.

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