Horse recovering after being shot; Deputies investigating as animal cruelty
A horse was shot in Hanover County, and now, the sheriff’s office is investigating the wounding as animal cruelty.
Meanwhile, the family continues to search for answers in the shooting.
Kim Gaudino had just returned home from a birthday dinner on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, when 24-year-old Penny didn’t run up to greet them as she usually does.
Gaudino’s grandson went into the field to try and find her and noticed she wasn’t moving.
"He touched her side and there was blood on his hand," Gaudino said. "We were looking, and my husband said, 'wow, she's been shot,'" Gaudino said.
The family immediately called Woodside Equine Clinic and the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, who responded right away. Both agencies stayed until the early morning hours to figure out exactly what happened.
“They tried an ultrasound, all kinds of things, medicine, shots, but she was just a zombie, in complete shock,” Gaudino said.
Later in the day, on Thanksgiving, the veterinarian shaved the area around the wound and then suggested using a metal detector to locate the bullet.
“As soon as my grandson hovered over the area, it goes ding, ding, ding,” Gaudino said.
On a day when they should be giving thanks, the Gaudinos were fearing the worst.
“She was laying on the ground, her heart rate was abnormal,” she said. “Buzzards were circling over top."
Gaudino’s husband, Ron, along with the help from a friend, dug a hole thinking the end was near for Penny.
"She's sweet and to just be shot and left to die is just sad," Gaudino said.
However, when Ron circled back to the horse Thursday evening, Penny took a surprising turn.
“She sees my husband and she just rallied," Gaudino said. “She just gets up, looks for him and started to walk a little bit.”
The family called the veterinarian back, where Gaudino said she was just as surprised by Penny’s newfound energy.
“I heard that seeing somebody they love can rally them to live,” Gaudino said. “There are a lot of times where if you leave them some place, drop them someplace to die they will just die. When she saw him she said I want to live!”
Penny is still on the mend. The family is taking things day by day, but now working to enclose a different field, farther away from where the bullet may have been fired.
Neighbors told the family they saw a group of people in the nearby woods that afternoon, potentially hunting.
“I believe in the right to hunt, but be respectful,” Gaudino said.
The family has signs posted along their property but worries people don’t care.
"I don't want this to happen to anyone else,” Gaudino said.
As the family sees Penny's fighting spirit return, Gaudino is reminded of the trait that runs through her family.
"Me, I’m fighting for every minute to live as a cancer patient,” she said.
Gaudino currently has terminal cancer and previously battled several other cancers. However, seeing Penny fighting to survive is now pushing her forward.
“You know, this farm is known for miracles," she said. “Life is too precious." The family filed a report with the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.
While it's unknown at this point how much the veterinarian bills will cost, the Gaudinos have created a GoFundMe to help pay for them.
Investigators are asking for information about people who were in the area last week - particularly, any possible hunters or people practicing shooting.
Anyone with information should call the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office at 804-365-6140 or Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.