Dr. Drip's abuser has been arrested and charged with felony cruelty to an animal.
Countless people visit race tracks and arenas every year in order to see champion race and show horses do what they do best: perform. While some may be aware that life for these horses behind closed doors is often horrible, most people are completely oblivious and assume that such beautiful creatures are well taken care of. This may be true for many horses while they make money for their caretakers, since they must look good for all races and shows, but what happens after they step off the track or out of the arena for the last time? The answer may shock you.
Once horses are retired from the limelight, their lives often take a turn for the absolute worst. The majority are sold to non-reputable owners who neglect the horses or, even worse, are sold for slaughter. Selling them for slaughter is common and often done within the week of their last race, despite racetracks publicly condemning the practice.
One horse that recently suffered from the former fate of being sold to a neglectful owner was Dr. Drip, prize-winning racehorse that won several ribbons and retired from racing in 2014. He was from Louisiana and won more than 60 races, with purses of more than $253,000. Officials were called to the scene of his new “home” after a concerned citizen called to report that an emaciated horse needed help.
Though cases like this take about 24 hours to process and get rescuers out to save an animal, the people at St. Landry Parish Animal Control and Rescue (SLPAC) took one look at Dr. Drip and knew they needed help immediately.
“We were allowed to seize the horse within three hours,” said Stacy McKnight, director of St. Landry Parish Animal Control and Rescue. “Because of the condition, we didn’t feel he had 24 hours.”
Though they were able to rescue Dr. Drip very quickly, the next day he was unable to even stand because of the long list of ailments he had. He was completely emaciated with all of his bones sticking out, had sores on his back from a saddle despite being way too skinny and weak to ride, battery acid had been poured on him, and there were maggots burrowing into his open wounds in his spine. SLPAC rescuers desperately tried to get Dr. Drip back up again, but to no avail.
“His flesh frail and tearing, we tried to lift but his flesh gave way,” SLPAC wrote on Facebook. “We tried to lift with support from tail, it ripped away. [An] abscess in his mouth made it hard for him to chew his hay … he started coughing blood.”
They determined that it would be best to put the horse, who spent his life serving humans only to be abused and neglected by them, out of his misery and they euthanized him. Though the team was extremely sad about Dr. Drip’s horrible treatment and his death, they were at least a little glad that in his final moments,
“He gracefully nickered and layed his head down for a final rest. He died not as a champion….but as a friend. He died not starving in a field, not alone, not in pain,” SLPAC shared on Facebook.
What’s even more unfortunate about Dr. Drip’s death is that it’s nowhere near an isolated incident and SLPAC themselves see tons of cases like this annually. Marty Irby, senior director of rural outreach and equine protection at the Humane Society of the United States, said that they see cases of neglected horses coming in everyday. Whether those horses are former show or race horses can only be determined after researching their past based on a tattoo in their mouth, but Irby said that the southeastern region of the country has more cases than other regions because tons of race and show horses are raised there.
Many horses of this caliber are bred in what’s akin to a puppy mill, in which they are bred in large operations and mistreated from the start of their lives. Just last year, one large breeder in Kentucky attempted to abandon 43 of the horses she had used for her operation after she was done with them.
In this case, a suspect was arrested for the neglect and abuse of Dr. Drip and he has admitted that he was the horse’s owner. The suspect, Jermaine Doucet Jr., was the caretaker for Dr. Drip and has been charged with felony cruelty to an animal.