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Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor;


Award Raised for Killer 

Who Strangled Horse

By Dorinda Troutman, RMR Staff Writer


July 2013 issue  


Award Raised for Killer Who Strangled Horse

Photo of Cooper when he was a youngster.  


      Pat Cregan has raised the award offered from $1,000 to $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer of her horse, Cooper. The gelding was a very friendly, eight-year-old Rocky Mountain Horse Cregan had raised from a foal and was a favorite riding horse. He was killed Saturday, May 18, 2013.

      Cooper, along with Cregan’s five other horses, had been taken off pasture the previous evening and put into a corral next to Cregan’s home on Moise Lane, north of Stevensville, Montana.

      “Cooper was just fine Friday night. Full of life and even playing with his ball,” says Cregan.

      The next morning a relative of Cregan’s ran into the house in alarm when he found Cooper dead in the corral.

      The gelding had been choked to death with an extremely tight rope — an act of ligature strangulation. Cregan called the Ravalli County Sheriff’s office and two officers arrived to examine the body. The rope around Cooper’s neck had multiple knots in it, and had been pulled so tight it was cutting into the horse’s neck. Cregan did not recognize the rope, which had been cut off cleanly a short distance from the knots. The officers said that “they had never seen an animal die in this manner” and ruled it a human-caused death.

      A month later, Cregan was still trying to get over the horror of Cooper’s death, and she described her horse with a catch in her voice.

      “I bought Cooper as a colt in Colorado , and when he was old enough I put him through horsemanship style training. He was such a character — he had a real personality. He was even a little snot sometimes. He loved to play and mess with me. If I had a brush in my back pocket, he would take it out. He would snuggle up so sweetly and then gently nip me. If I put a radio up on the corral fence, he would knock it off. He loved to play tug of war with his rubber feed dish –just like a dog. He was so friendly he would walk right up to anyone.”


      Cregan’s property is in a rural area of five- to twenty-acre parcels. A friend and neighbor of Cregan had security cameras which recorded footage of the nervous and erratic movements of the Cregan horses on the night Cooper died.

      She noted that the following day, the horses were not right. They only grazed sporadically. They moved back and forth between the corral where Cooper was killed and far out in the pasture.

      “His buddy, a white mare, kept checking back to the corral and barn as if looking for him,” she says.

      Neither Cregan or her neighbor believe that this was a random attack. The neighbor says that she has moved her own horses off her property.


      A memorial for Cooper has been placed by a friend on a fence near where the horse was killed. People can see photos of the horse and leave messages of condolence.

      If anyone has any information about Cooper’s strangulation, call Ravalli County Sheriff’s Detective Scott Burlingham at 406-375-4015.

      As of press time, Detective Burlingham says that there is nothing new in the investigation.  


A friend and neighbor has placed a memorial for Cooper on his owner’s fence.



Violence does not exist in a vacuum

        Why should all people care about violence against animals?

      Because a growing body of research shows that people who commit violence and abuse against animals do not stop there. Animal abuse is aggressive, anti-social behavior that predicts violence against people.

      Animal abuse is not an “animal rights issue.” It should be taken seriously because it is a crime, and a crime that can lead to even more violence and cruelty against people. Just like children, animals cannot defend themselves, cannot understand why they are being hurt, and cannot seek outside help.

      Most abused children and women report that their abusers were also cruel to pets or livestock. Most serial killers and school shooters have admitted to persistent horrible acts of animal cruelty previous to committing crimes against people.

      Animal abuse and cruelty is often the most visible part of a history of aggressive or antisocial behavior. Neighbors and family members can be more comfortable reporting crimes against animals than against people. This can open a dialog that uncovers human-directed violence.

      Animal cruelty should be viewed as a serious issue by professionals in law enforcement and mental health, as well as the general public. Prosecuting animal abuse has many benefits, including adding a tool to help protect victims at risk of family violence.

      When an animal is killed in the brutal manner that Cooper was, it is a threat — not only against Cooper’s owner and her family — but against anyone else the killer may contact.


Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor;

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