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Pet Theft Awareness

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Happy Endings: Horses

Bailey & Tinkerbell

Bailey and Tinkerbell

(Story from 2010) Two miniature ponies that were stolen from their disabled owner last month were found on Friday (15 January), in a field in Edenbridge, Essex. Horsewatch groups up and down the country have been on alert since 29 December when Bailey and Tinkerbell were taken from stables in Charlton, Middlesex. They belong to Daniel Nicholls, 30, a former show jumper who was paralysed in a riding accident two years ago. Mr Nicholls also set up a Facebook page and distributed hundreds of fliers. A Horsewatch member saw the ponies in a field and contacted the police who were able to reunite Mr Nicholls with his ponies. Betty Cobrol of Surrey Horsewatch said: “Through all the publicity we made it quite hot for anybody to keep them. This is a great result.” Mr Nicholls told H&H: "I want to thank everyone so, so much for all their help and support in trying to find my miniature horses Bailey and Tinkerbell. "Bailey is still her laid back self but Tinkerbell is still a bit traumatised by it all, but she is slowly coming round to being to back home. "I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has helped me get my horses back."

-Charlotte White, H&H deputy news editor, 18 January, 2010. Taken from Horse & Hound news.



Stolen Horse International is an American based organisation who help find horses all over the world. This is a recent Happy Ending story which illustrates that stolen pets and horses can turn up and it might be many years later! Woman Reunited with Stolen Horse after almost 10 Years! Michelle Pool never stopped thinking about Opie, her American Saddlebred horse stolen from her father’s pasture in San Antonio, Texas, nearly 10 years ago.

Michelle reported the horse stolen in 2003 but despite extensive publicity Opie was nowhere to be found.

Michelle explains:
“We got ‘Opie’ when he was just a new foal of 16 months. He came to live with us in Red Oak outside of Dallas, and we began loving him from day one.


I still remember having to explain Opie's theft to two small children and a teen. Michelle filed a report in March of 2003 about Opie’s disappearance. Shortly after she reported the theft to Stolen Horse International (also known as Netposse) which runs a website dedicated to publicising stolen horses.

NetPosse set up a page about Opie and sent out alerts to its thousands of followers, but there was no word on what became of Opie.

As the years passed, Michelle never stopped thinking of Opie and wondering what had happened to him. Then, nearly a decade later, a phonecall came through to Stolen Horse International to report an advertisement they had seen on online marketplace Craigslist.

They were interested in buying the advertised horse, but thought it wise to check first to see if he was listed. They found him and reported their discovery to Netposse’s founder and president Debi Metcalfe.

The first task facing Metcalfe was tracking down Michelle Pool. Her contact information on the website had not been updated in years. She was traced to Eureka Springs, Arkansas and she recalls the initial phone call: “I was in shock and part of me did not believe it at first because I had been let down so many times. Debi said she was sure it was him.” With Michelle on the phone, Debbie Metcalfe sent her pictures of Opie from the advertisement via email and heard her gasp as the pictures came into view.

“Oh my God! I never thought I’d see him again!” Michelle cried. “Look! It is really him!” she exclaimed to her children who were sitting with her at the computer.

After talking with Michelle, Debbie Metcalfe organized her notes and notified the Dayton County Sheriff’s Office while Michelle called the Bexar County Sheriff’s office. Hours later, Metcalfe called the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association ranger Jimmy Belt who was assigned to the case and gave him the particulars.

With his interest piqued at the prospect of returning a horse to its family more than nine years after its theft, Belt and a Liberty County deputy went to the residence where Opie was known to be and seized him.

Michelle and Opie are now back together, but she acknowledges it has been a painful journey, with all those years of not knowing his fate. Being able to show her children that there are good people in the world is helping to restore her faith in people.

She offered her heartfelt thanks to the tipster, and the work of Netposse, saying her shattered dreams were now being put back piece by piece and glued together thanks to their efforts.

Netposse’s Debbie Metcalfe said she wanted to thank all those who played a part in what she called a miracle.

“We never give up and we never underestimate the power of one. This is truly one of the miracles we love to see and are so thankful we get to share this moment with Michelle.”

Debbie said the authorities had done the right thing in seizing the horse immediately after being notified. “At the time of seizure no-one knew if Opie would be there the next day since he was on Craigslist for sale,” she said.

No-one knew if the people who had him were bad people or good people. Thank goodness for Opie it was the latter.

He has had a good life with the family to whom he was given to in 2003. Inquiries are under way into the theft which thankfully had a happy ending thanks to a caller and the hard work of Debbie Metcalfe and Stolen Horse International.