In a now-viral video that sent outrage through the animal activist world, a light brown horse in Grand County, Colorado known as Trigger, can be seen struggling to free itself as it is dragged by its halter several hundred yards by a silver pickup truck.
Around the horse’s halter was a thick lead rope, with its other end attached to the hitch of the truck. The horse can be seen flailing its head back and forth to no avail as its hooves appear to slide in the snow.
The person behind the wheel of the truck was none other than Tigger’s owner, John Saldate. His wife, Amber Saldate, recorded the incident and uploaded it to Facebook, where she can be heard on the video saying, “This [expletive] refuses to leave the ranch, so John’s pulling him across, cause he’s being a douchebag.”
The video was met with immediate outrage from the public, prompting Amber to remove it from her account. However, the footage had already spread, reaching millions of views and sparking a demand for justice, for what activists claim is a grotesque display of animal abuse.
On Tuesday, authorities announced that the Saldate’s have now been charged with one count each of animal cruelty, which is a misdemeanor in Colorado. According to Grand County Sheriff, Brett Schroetlin, the case has bombarded their department with concerns from the public.
“We have received countless social media contacts, emails, phone calls. I can’t even begin to put a number on how many there were,” the sheriff stated during a news conference.
As for Trigger’s current wellbeing, a veterinarian did not note any obvious signs of trauma. However, he did administer pain medication to help with tenderness. Police are currently seeking a search warrant that will allow them to obtain possession of Trigger, where he will be transferred to the Colorado Humane Society. There is no word yet on whether or not the Saldates other horses will also be seized.
A woman who identified herself as Trigger’s owner, (presumably Amber Saldate) spoke anonymously to Denver’s CBS4. Through tears, she explained to the reporter that she now realizes the damage that she and her husband have caused. “I’ve lost my job over this, I’ve upset a lot of people. I made our horse go through something that he shouldn’t have. I was wrong.” she said in the off-camera interview. “You make one bad decision sometimes,” she said, “and it can destroy your life.” The Saldates are scheduled to appear in Grand County Court for an arraignment on January 28th, 2020.