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Felon sought on warrants for horse neglect, illegal gun possession arrested in northeast Oregon

An undated photo that was circulated on the Cowgirl 911 Facebook group allegedly showed the location where Trina McDonald’s horses were seized from in Curry County, Oregon.

La Grande, Ore. – A convicted felon who was charged earlier this year with multiple counts of horse neglect, as well as separate charges in another county for felon in possession of a firearm, has been arrested by La Grande Police in northeast Oregon after nearly 10 months on the run from authorities.

The arrest comes amid new charges alleged by La Grande Police last week against Trina Louise McDonald, 56; including giving false information to a peace officer, tampering with evidence, and multiple counts of theft.

La Grande Police Lieutenant Jason Hays told Equestrian Media Group that McDonald was arrested last Tuesday after allegedly stealing clothing containing wallets, money, and other possessions of two elderly persons from a senior center. One of the victims was 101 years old Hays said.

The Union County Senior Center, operated by the Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, politely declined to speak about the incident when reached for comment. According to Hays, their video surveillance played a critical role in promptly identifying McDonald and making an arrest.

“Our officers ended up catching up with her at her house, she lied about who she was and gave false information. She did cooperate with the police investigation after that and we were able to recover the stolen items, but not all the money that was stolen,” Hays said, while also confirming the stolen money itself was about $250.

McDonald was charged earlier this year in Curry County, Oregon, on two counts of animal neglect. According to court records, Curry County District Attorney Joshua Spansail alleged that McDonald “did unlawfully and with criminal negligence fail to provide minimum care for an animal…”.

She was allegedly provided multiple warnings about the conditions of her horses by the US Forest Service and Curry County. At the time McDonald was allegedly homeless and living out of a horse trailer. Posts on the popular Facebook group Cowgirl 911 showed countless equestrians offering to assist in rehoming– offers that McDonald allegedly refused repeatedly.

The horses were ultimately seized by the Curry County Sheriff’s Office which was assisted by Strawberry Mountain Mustangs, a 501(c)(3) horse rescue organization located in Roseburg. The rescue also came under attack and numerous threats by McDonald for many months, leading to concerns being raised with local authorities and requests with other law enforcement entities in both Douglas and Lake Counties in Oregon.

A warrant was then issued for McDonald after she failed to attend hearings in the Curry County case in February.

That same month, McDonald was arrested on a warrant issued weeks prior and booked in Malheur County on a felony charge of Felon in Possession of a Firearm from a September 2022 incident involving an interaction with Oregon State Police. According to the grand jury indictment, McDonald was convicted of felony robbery in 1996 in Monterey, California.

A letter submitted by McDonald to the court in her animal neglect case in Curry County asked the judge to rescind the warrant claiming she was unable to attend the hearing following her arrest days before in Malheur County. The request was ultimately denied and the warrant was left in place by the Curry County judge.

McDonald then failed to appear by telephone for a May hearing in Malheur County on the illegal gun possession charge, prompting a new warrant to be issued for her arrest– leaving her with two outstanding warrants for failure to appear.

The case has also gained some social media attention after Strawberry Mountain Mustang’s founder and executive director, Darla Clark, was found to be a quick target of general threats and alleged harassment by McDonald. The issues prompted Clark to push Curry County Sheriff John Word and the District Attorney for help and protection.

At one point the Lake County Sheriff’s Office attempted, unsuccessfully, to apprehend McDonald in Christmas Valley south of Bend, Oregon. McDonald had reportedly worked at a local gas station.

Clark thanked Sheriff Ward in her statement released late last week to Equestrian Media Group following the news of Mcdonald’s arrest, saying in part, “My deepest appreciation to Sheriff John Ward and all agencies statewide who take animal abuse and neglect seriously,” but made no mention of the District Attorney’s office.

Clark had previously expressed frustration to Equestrian Media Group with the Curry County DA’s handling of the case and alleged lack of experience in handling large animal neglect cases.

That included Clark’s allegation that the DA’s office improperly handled confidential witness information that she believed ended up in McDonald’s hands and helped facilitate the campaign of harassment and threats against her and the rescue.

Clark also reported that the DA’s office at one point even asked if they would grant “visitation” rights to McDonald.

Equestrian Media Group had previously made attempts to speak with Curry County DA’s office regarding Clark’s concerns, but our calls were never returned.

Sherriff Ward did respond promptly to our previous inquiries from our editor and outlined the challenging efforts in handling this case, including highlighting the resource issues in their county about access to veterinarians and large animal rescues. He also expressed his appreciation for the support from Strawberry Mountain Mustangs.

“McDonald’s lengthy criminal history proves that people who victimize animals will always go on to victimize others whom they view as easy targets. My thoughts are with her most recent victims in Union County,” said Clark’s statement.

“The McDonald case also sheds light on how difficult the work rescues can be. We are often targeted and even stalked in our efforts to simply support law enforcement and assist these incredible animals. Our work is often dangerous, tiring, and quite often heartbreaking, but seeing the light come back in the eyes of an animal near death makes it worth it.”

According to Union County Sheriff Cody Bowen, McDonald was being held in their jail on the new charges as well as outstanding warrants from both Curry and Malheur County.

McDonald was then arraigned earlier today in Union County Circuit Court but was ultimately granted release.

Union County District Attorney Kelsie McDaniel told Equestrian Media Group this afternoon that they objected to McDonald’s release due to her extensive criminal history, including the two outstanding warrants. McDaniel didn’t provide any further comment about McDonald’s new charges citing ethics rules.

McDonald is now scheduled for another hearing in Union County in January.

According to court and jail record information, McDonald did appear to remain in custody on either the Curry County or Malheur County warrant despite her release being granted earlier today on the new charges in Union County. It was unclear if or when McDonald might now be transported to Malheur County Jail.

A call made to McDonald’s newly appointed court attorney offering an opportunity for comment was not returned before press time.

This is a developing story that you can count on us to keep you updated on.

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