A very old ‘war horse’ loses a gallant battle
by Lindsay Field
July 30, 2013 12:07 AM | 13248 views | 8 8 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
 Zoe, an almost 40-year-old horse, is shown being consoled by one of the volunteers at the Michelle Akers Sundance Horse Rescue and Outreach Inc. farm off Bullard Road in Powder Springs.
Zoe, an almost 40-year-old horse, is shown being consoled by one of the volunteers at the Michelle Akers Sundance Horse Rescue and Outreach Inc. farm off Bullard Road in Powder Springs.
slideshow
Former Olympian Michelle Akers with Thunder, who is a rescue horse just like Zoe was.
Former Olympian Michelle Akers with Thunder, who is a rescue horse just like Zoe was.
slideshow

After an all-night struggle and then a valiant effort by local firefighters and volunteers to pull an almost 40-year-old horse out of a muddy ditch, the animal had to be put down Monday morning.

Michelle Akers, a retired U.S. Olympic soccer player turned coach and the owner of a horse rescue farm in Powder Springs, said on Monday that she went out to her barn at about 6:30 a.m. to feed her animals. It was there she discovered that the first horse she ever rescued, Zoe, was missing.

“I wondered, ‘Where is she?’ and then I heard her trying to breathe and that’s when I found her,” Akers said.

The horse, which Akers became the owner of in 2008 after a Florida animal control agency rescued her from an abusive owner in 2007, was buried almost up to her neck in a muddy ditch along the perimeter of the property.

Akers’ farm and soccer-training facility – the Michelle Akers Sundance Horse Rescue & Outreach – sits on 8 acres off Bullard Road just south of Hillgrove High School in west Cobb.

“Zoe was immersed,” Akers said with tear-filled eyes. “Her legs were stuck and with that silt and mud, which is like clay, it suctions, and if you try to pull (an animal) out, it could pull their feet off, their legs off.”

In an attempt to free Zoe, members of Cobb County Animal Control were called in by neighbors but they, too, were unsure how to remove the nearly 1,500-pound animal. They called in assistance from Cobb Fire.

Fire spokeswoman Denell Boyd said a call came into their department at 8:07 a.m.

“When we got here (Akers) was up to her waist in mud trying to help the horse,” Boyd said.

No fight left

For nearly two hours firefighters, with the help of Akers and some farm volunteers, tried to extract Zoe from the mud hole by sliding straps under her body, attaching them to a rotating crane and pulling her up out of what was to become her muddy grave.

“(Zoe) had just been fighting so long that every time we’d start to pull her up, she’d start fighting and finally that’s when the vet said, ‘We just need to put her down,’” Boyd said.

“It was just too much,” Akers said. “There are worse things than dying and that was my decision.”

She applauded the firefighters for their efforts.

“They did really good, (Zoe had) just been there too long,” Akers said. “There wasn’t much fight in her. I just didn’t see her having the fight to come back from that because she was so far deteriorated and beat up, and she’s been through bad things. She was abused really bad, so it’s just better to say good-bye.”

Zoe’s story

Akers welcomed Zoe to her farm permanently in 2008.

The horse, who is believed to have been born around 1973, was rescued in September 2007 after her original owner reportedly tried to bury alive another horse that was sick on the Seminole County, Fla., property.

“Zoe, a.k.a. Sue, was found huddled in the corner of the pasture with another horse and a donkey,” Akers’ website states. “She was a ‘1’ on the Henneke body-conditioning scale, meaning extremely emaciated – a walking skeleton – and in immediate jeopardy.”

Seminole County’s animal control unit confiscated the horse and approximately one year later, Akers became Zoe’s new owner.

Zoe is one of many animals Akers has rescued in the last five years, including six other horses, pigmy goats, dogs, cats, chickens and a fish.

To learn more about Akers’ rescue or to make a donation to the nonprofit, visit michelleakershorserescue.org.

Akers played soccer for the U.S. National Team from 1989-2000 and won two FIFA World Cups – in 1991 and again in 1999. She was also a Gold Medalist in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta with the U.S. Soccer Team.

 

Comments
(8)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Luek
|
July 30, 2013
People who abuse animals will abuse humans the same way if they can get away with it.

There are some really decrepit sickos out there.

Just Wait
|
July 30, 2013
Nice that in the MDJ, Akers talks very nice about the CCFD, but on the TV news, she slammed them for not having proper training and equipment to save her horse. Since when did it become the responsibility of the fire department to save animals in situations like this? When was the last time you saw a fireman get a cat out of a tree?
MAY-RETTA SURVIVOR
|
July 31, 2013
@Just Wait: Sometimes, just sometimes, decent people (in this case the fire department) will go out of their way to help others. Perhaps this is a new concept for you?
michelle akers
|
July 31, 2013
you both are way off. not sure what the news story was...but I praised the CCFD up and down and all over the place. it is my guess whoever put the news piece together edited it for sound bites and that is how it came out. unfortunate and sad, as the CCFD guys were awesome in every way and made a very tough situation at least bearable because of their professionalism, effort, and compassion.
Southern Patriot
|
July 30, 2013
Truly a sad story! Humans who abuse animals should pay the highest penalty, they should be executed.
MAY-RETTA SURVIVOR
|
July 30, 2013
Such a sad, sad story.

I know in my heart that, as I type this, Zoe is running - young again and free - with the other ponies up in Heaven.

May God Bless both Zoe and Michelle.
Judy Cummings
|
August 07, 2013
So sad for Ms. Akers and CCFD as horse lover & former co-worker . 9-1-1/Firemen. Knowing firemen, i know they did everything humanely possible. Bless you. Ms. Akers for all you do for our wonderful creatures. Plan to make a contribution in Zoe's name as soon as new computer up & running.

Former Cobb Co. resident
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides