When former Allied Gardens resident, Shelly Snoderly, walked into the Big Pine Saddle Club early one morning, three months ago, she was upset to see the place had been ransacked. Saddles and tack were obviously missing in the 41-stable horse facility. A truck had been fire bombed.
It was utter shock when she then discovered the unthinkable. Snoderly found nine mutilated and beaten horses and mules. Seven slashed in their throats and legs.
Located in the large, rural county of Inyo, in California’s Eastern Sierra, the Saddle Club, with help from the small town of 1,700, immediately offered a reward of $5,000.
Snoderly, who grew up in Big Pine, couldn’t remember any acts like the attack on the stables. In 2017, Inyo County reported only 128 violent crimes and no homicides.
Several San Diego-area residents, who knew Snoderly from her 16 years living in San Diego, and the boarding of her two horses at Blanco Ranch in San Ysidro, rallied around her and her club, in which she serves as president. The reward fund grew to $10,000.
Dawn Morris, of Santee, was one of them. She knew making the six-hour drive up Highway 395 to Big Pine wouldn’t help. “So I donated [to the Reward Fund],” said Morris. “I then went on Facebook and other social media to rally San Diego animal lovers.”
“We volunteer at the San Diego Humane Society. We rescue animals. We just love animals. I thought it was awful, and wanted to get the word out,” said Morris.
As of this week, the reward leading to an arrest is now up to almost $19,000.
However over the last three months, Inyo County Sheriff’s Dept. has been mum on the investigation, initially saying they had no leads and were not asking for help from outside agencies (FBI, Homeland Security, or American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Surprising, because those agencies would have powers of investigation and arrest in such a bizarre crime. “What if it happened in other areas?” Snoderly originally questioned.
Over the last months, frustration with lack of information from the Sheriff’s Dept. could be read in the pages of a Mammoth Lakes newspaper, The Sheet. Publisher Ted Charlton had lamented in his published columns that the lack of updates in the case is disconcerting.
However Snoderly reported to me on October 18 that the sheriffs now report they have some possible suspects but need to wait on solid evidence being processed in the Orange County’s crime lab.
The Sheet’s Charlton updated me on his knowledge of the investigation. “These are very bad guys with a long history of violence. People were afraid to talk, thinking they might be killed. If these guys can kill one guy, they’re capable of killing ten,” he advised. “Even some of our deputies were hesitant in talking about it.”
Snoderly said all the animals have now recovered from their attack, including Choco, the horse most severely injured in his attack. Snoderly’s two horses, which she had brought up from San Diego, were not injured.