Sarasota County police, Florida authorities and the public are in a race against time to find three missing horses stolen in Sarasota County, Florida. The Agricultural Crimes Unit of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the theft of the three horses which were stolen out of their pasture located on Dog Kennel Road near Fruitville Road in [East] Sarasota County. The estimated timeframe of this horse theft is between Sunday and Tuesday afternoons, but most likely on Monday night during the rainstorm. The television media and press have picked up this story since Nov. 12 and a social media blitz has already been launched.
The location of the horses’ pasture is a private setting and out of the way, down a long dirt road, and is deemed safe. The owner of the horses, Michelle Gaster, was keeping her three riding horses in a pasture while her own property was being reseeded. Gaster said, “It’s remote. It’s a dead-end street. It’s not like people can see it driving up and down the road.” She usually got over to see the horses and give them feed every day. Earlier this week, her horses were gone.
Said Gaster, “I [went to] open the gate; there’s no lock. I have a combination lock on the gate and it was gone.” The three horses are like kids to her. She is concerned for them since the brutal killing of the Manatee County show jumper and just shortly before that, the killing of another young show horse, both butchered for their meat. Gaster said, “I’m hopeful they’re still alive. I’m trying to keep a positive attitude and outlook right now.” However, she is very afraid that such a fate may befall her own horses and she said, “I think [my horses are] on their way to Miami.”
Deputies from Sarasota County and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office are working and cooperating closely on this case. Everyone is concerned about the stolen horses since the latest horse slaughters and, in recent years, the numerous horse thefts and killings that have occurred in south Florida. Deputies are advising local horse owners to be especially watchful because authorities think this could be a trend. Per Captain John Jernigan of Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office,
It’s an active investigation right now. We have no remains that have been discovered so at this point, we’re suspecting that the animals are safe and healthy.
Some information has been shared by deputies and witnesses. A vehicle with trailer was seen within the suspicious timeframe. It was a Dually pickup truck pulling a red stock trailer. This vehicle was spotted, as mentioned on Facebook, loaded with “the” horses heading toward Miami. Based on a witness report, there were two young males in the truck.
The three horses involved in this theft: 1) Shooter, grey Quarter Horse gelding, with a Paulette Stoudt/Sand Cay Farms Brand and Gerald Keesling’s brand. He has a white snip on a pink nose. He stands 15 1/2 hands and is very friendly and gentle. Spider is a red roan Appaloosa gelding with an indentation on his left side remaining from a kick to his side years ago. It is shaped like a hoof mark. He stands 16 hands and is very gentle and kind. Velvet is a dark Paint/Quarter Horse mare. She stands 16 hands and is a skiddish horse.
Shauna Mastrorilli is manning the Facebook page under the name of “Bringing, Spider, Shooter and Velvet home.” She will make updates as required. Mastrorilli is completely amazed with the outpouring of online concern and support.
At this time, a reward of $5,000 is offered for information leading to the safe return of Gaster’s three horses. Gaster said,
I’m lost. I don’t know what to think and I don’t know where they are at. I just want them back.
Anyone with information is asked to call 941-861-4934 or 941-861-4087.