A full-grown horse wandered into a mobile-home park near Hesperus and mysteriously died Tuesday, at one point falling on and injuring a girl, according to La Plata County Animal Protection.
Animal Protection did not move the dead horse Tuesday because the carcass is the property of someone believed to be a member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, said Travis Woehrel, director of Animal Protection. Officials asked that the horse be dragged across the street from the property for the owner to deal with, he said.
The carcass, as of Wednesday evening, was on a two-track trail directly across a state highway from the mobile-home park. Brand inspector Chad Moore said the horse was a stray with no brand marking – there’s not much more that can be done about it.
“Stray horse with no brand is not something we’ll come up with an owner on, unless someone claims it or has reported it missing to us,” Moore said in a voice message.
Authorities found the animal standing between two trailers in the Pine Wind Mobile Home Park in the 21300 block of Colorado Highway 140, Woehrel said. The animal, which had no visible injuries, kept falling over, he said. At some point, it fell on a girl’s leg. Woehrel said Wednesday he did not know the extent of her injuries.
“The officers were able to get it back up, and before we could get a veterinarian there, it passed,” Woehrel said. “We were kind of assisting the brand inspector. Technically, it’s brand inspector’s business.”
The owner of the mobile-home park said he was not at the property when the incident happened and had received only second-hand information; he declined to comment.
It’s not uncommon for horses to escape enclosures – “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” Woehrel said. But he said it’s also “kind of bizarre that (the horse) wandered over and died like that.” Woehrel said he did not know how the horse died.
Colorado law requires anyone who doesn’t want farm animals on their property to install a barbed-wire fence designed to state standards. If a property is fenced, any damages caused by animals are the responsibility of whomever owns them. But if there isn’t a fence, the property owner is responsible for whatever damage livestock cause on the property.
The Pine Wind Mobile Home Park did not have a fence around its property at the time of the incident, Woehrel said. He said he’s unsure who may be liable for the girl’s injury.
Property owners where people rent space are responsible to maintain safe conditions, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. For example, if someone is injured in a hotel, and that injury can be attributed to negligence by the owners, law enforcement could file criminal charges against the hotel owner.
But this case falls in legal limbo – it may be difficult to prove the mobile-home park was negligent when the girl was injured, and someone else owned the horse that died on Pine Wind property. The family of the injured girl, who has not been publicly identified, could seek civil action against the mobile-home park owner, the owner of the horse or both.