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Deputies arrest mounted posse member on horse neglect and abuse charges

"In over 20 years working neglect cases, this is one of the most disturbing acts of cruelty I have witnessed, as evidenced by the abuse charge in addition to neglect."

Morgan Fowler riding during a Douglas County Mounted Posse event in March 2024. (Photo Courtesy – Will Geschke, News-Review)

Roseburg, Ore. – An Oregon equestrian and member of the Douglas County Mounted Posse has been arrested on allegations she neglected and abused a horse.

Morgan Faith Fowler, 24, of Winston, was arrested (and since released) yesterday on one count of first-degree animal neglect and another count of second-degree animal abuse.

According to online statements by Darla Clark, executive director of Strawberry Mountain Mustangs, a 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue, the incident was one of the worst she has seen in over 20 years.

“Tonight, acting as a volunteer for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, I carried out the heartbreaking task of burying this beautiful young soul on the ridge overlooking the rescue,” said Clark, referring to the horse allegedly abused and neglected by Fowler.

“Strawberry Mountain did not own him but we will be covering all expenses incurred by the Sheriff’s Department,” said Clark. “In over 20 years working neglect cases, this is one of the most disturbing acts of cruelty I have witnessed, as evidenced by the abuse charge in addition to neglect.”

Clark also explained that a team of veterinarians had been assisting on the case. “Rest assured that a team of investigators and veterinarians are doing their part to bring this boy justice.”

Despite veterinarian intervention, the horse could not be saved. Clark detailed efforts underway the evening before: “UC Davis refeeding protocol is under way [sic] and veterinarians from one of our local clinics are assisting.”

Douglas County Mounted Posse Captain Erica Astry confirmed that Fowler was a member of their non-profit but did not provide any details on any action involving Fowler’s status.

Astry also explained that while the organization was initially overseen by the Sheriff’s Office, which is typical for most mounted posses, the organization dropped Sheriff from its name nearly two decades ago and is not under the control of the Douglas County Sheriff. Oregon Corporation Division records confirmed the change in 2006.

“We just got news about it, and we had no prior knowledge of it,” Astry explained.

“We are preparing a public statement that we will have ready on Monday, so as of right now, we can’t say much other than we’re shocked. None of us had any knowledge of anything that was going or happening,” said Astry.

Sheriff John Hanlin and Lieutenant Brad O’Dell spoke with Equestrian Media Group in a conference call earlier this morning and confirmed that his deputies were investigating the case against Fowler.

“The investigation is ongoing, and [Fowler] is going to be held accountable for any crimes she has committed. It’s truly a shocking tragedy for the community to hear about,” said Hanlin. “The majority of the people involved with these posses are good people– are good, hardworking, law-abiding citizens.”

“I know that the people involved in this posse that she was a member of are good folks, and they shared with us how shocked they were and unaware of the conditions [Fowler] had this horse in,” explained Hanlin.

In a press release, O’Dell said the investigation started early this week when animal control deputies received a tip about a horse being mistreated in the 600 block of Longhorn Lane. During the investigation, deputies learned the horse and property owner had no connection, O’Dell said.

Fowler was just recently featured in a story by News-Review, having participated in a local event hosted by the Douglas County Mounted Posse.

“My whole family has been in the posse. I’ve been around it since I was a kid. So, when I turned 21, I joined and I love being in the posse,” Fowler told News-Review.

“Just being in a group of horse people and being able to be around people that are into the same thing, always learning new things and volunteering, community service is what the posse is all about.”

Equestrian Media Group was unable to reach Fowler for comment before publication.

Fowler’s next court appearance is scheduled as an arraignment for May 1st in Douglas County Circuit Court in Roseburg.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s office at 541-440-4471 referencing case 24-1522.

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