CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Seven horses are back with their Charlotte owner after authorities said they were stolen and sold to someone else.
WSOC reported that they were found only after their story went viral thanks to Stolen Horse International.
The Charlotte organization sends out email alerts with printable fliers of the animals and their owner’s contact information.
Founder Debi Metcalfe said she started Stolen Horse International after her horse Idaho was stolen more than a decade ago.
Metcalfe said because horses are so big and sometimes hard to maneuver, people assume whoever is handling the horse has permission.
She said that is what happened when seven horses were stolen from Amanda Bechtel in Winston-Salem while she was moving. Someone just picked them up in a trailer and took off.
“You know they get scared just like you would,” Metcalfe said.
Alerts went out and tips about the horses started coming in. Investigators said they received the information needed to track down the horses and return them to their owner in Charlotte.
“It’s like putting together a puzzle, little piece here, little piece there,” Metcalfe said.
She told WSOC the horses had actually been sold and the thieves had gotten hundreds of dollars.
“They ended up in Walkertown, N.C. All seven of them,” Metcalfe said.
Metcalfe said with horse auctions all over the state, thieves often see a handsome reward.
“They don’t have to have ownership papers; all they have to have is a horse on a lead line and walk it through,” Metcalfe said.
The horses suffer under the stress of new places and new faces.
“A horse can lose hundreds of pounds within a week just from stress,” Metcalfe said.
Metcalfe said three of Amanda Bechtel’s horses have lost a lot of weight, but they’re expected to be okay. She said some are already in Charlotte and he rest will be coming home in the next few weeks.