The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 9, 2013

Owner of horse killed in crash to be cited by Ohio State Highway Patrol

Star Beacon

PIERPONT TOWNSHIP — The owner of the horse that was killed in a crash on Route 167 will be cited by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Lt. Jerad Sutton said.

A 21-year-old pregnant woman was injured when a loose horse was struck by a car on Dec. 23, Ohio State Highway Patrol reports show.

The victim was taken to the Ashtabula County Medical Center for treatment of non-incapacitating injuries. The horse died at the scene and the car was totaled, Sutton said.

The horse owner, 44-year-old Jose Flores, was cited by Ashtabula County Dog Warden Donna Yan on Dec. 20 for animals at large, court records show, just days before the horse was struck and killed. He pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay $150 in fines.

Sutton said loose animals in roadways — horses, cows, cats, dogs and other critters — are a hazard.

“When looking at crash reports involving other animals than deer, which could be a dog, a cat, a turkey, or a horse, we had 19 crashes in 2012,” he said.

Sutton said animals hit were hit by vehicles in all 19 crashes.

“To put it in perspective, we handled 1,400 crashes in 2012, so animal-at-large crashes are a very small percentage of the crashes we handled.”

Sutton said Trooper Eric Souders, who handled the crash, noted Flores will be cited for allowing the horse to escape its enclosure.

“We do cite for animal at large, but it doesn’t happen often,” Sutton said. “It really has to be a recurring problem, and then it depends on the circumstance.”

Ashtabula County Humane Society agent and board member Kim Walbridge said animals in roadways can be devastating to the people and the animals involved.

Walbridge said the Humane Society agents do not cite for animals at large, but are often involved if a large animal is injured or looks to be neglected.

“The agents get called in because an animal is skinny or hurt, and that is usually how we get involved,” she said. “If we get a call that there is a horse running down the road, we help go catch it, but animals in the road isn’t cruelty, per se — it is property maintenance, so charges are up to law enforcement.”

Walbridge said hitting a horse, pig or cow with a vehicle is far more dangerous than hitting a deer.

“The reason is because farm animals have more bulk than a deer, and cows and pigs have a lower center of gravity. Deer are light and they bounce. Farm animals have sheer size on their side. That Halflinger horse that was killed must have weighed 750 to 800 pounds.”

Walbridge said cows, on average, weigh 800 to 900 pounds and beef cows are more solid than dairy cows.

Walbridge said anyone who sees an animal in the road should contact local law enforcement or the dog warden for immediate help.

“I warn people about trying to catch big animals unless they have some sort of experience with that type of animal,” Walbridge said. “A cow or a horse will run off or kick. No one should chase a horse or cow or corner a bull.”

Sutton said troopers have caught loose farm animals on several occasions. He also notes that while animals in the road make up a small percentage of crashes, they can be deadly.

“In 2011, two people were killed as the result of a horse that got loose in the roadway,” he said. “While we give animal owners the benefit of the doubt, we take it very seriously when someone has recurring problems with keeping their animals off the roadways.”