Local animal shelter helps find refuge for 177 neglected, abused miniature ponies

There is perhaps nothing cuter than a miniature pony. Their big doe eyes, their fuzzy coats of fur and their pint-size bodies are hard to resist. However, what drew Sharon Murphy toward miniature ponies was a photo of one suffering from neglect and LISKA & ASSOCIATES AUCTIONEERS - Some of the miniature ponies confiscated from a ranch in Cove Junction showed signs of starvation.

Murphy, the director of the nonprofit PAWS Animal Shelter in West Linn, felt the need for the shelter to help.

The pony is just one of 177 miniature horses confiscated from a horse ranch in Cave Junction in October. The owner, Kandi Lucile Crow, was charged with 23 counts of animal neglect, 17 counts of animal abuse and four counts of prohibited possession of a domestic animal — all misdemeanors. Crow was also convicted of animal abuse in LISKA & ASSOCIATES AUCTIONEERS - This pony suffers from an open wound and will be part of the Saturday auction in Grants Pass.

Other animal on the property included goats, cats, dogs, cows, full-size horses, chickens, a llama and a peacock. The ponies are going up for auction Dec. 8 in Grants Pass.

Murphy found the level of neglect shocking and was compelled not to be a LISKA & ASSOCIATES AUCTIONEERS - Close to 200 ponies will be sold at auction Saturday. PAWS Animal Shelter hopes to save some that are not bid on.

She came across the upcoming auction of the mini ponies when someone asked her to share a post on the PAWS Facebook page. She intended just to post the announcement, but like a cat, curiosity got the better of her. Opening a document with some photos of the horses before and after neglect, Murphy was struck by the second set of pictures of a dappled gray horse. The difference in the comparison is drastic, going from healthy to emaciated.

“He’s standing tall, he’s looking proud,” she said of the first photo, and of the next: “Now bones are jutting out.”

According to Murphy, the ranch was run as a business and the animals were not treated humanely.

“That makes it worse when the animals are not treated as living beings. It bothers me to no end,” she said.

To help find homes for some of the mini ponies that are worse for wear and might not be sold to proper owners during the auction, Murphy and a crew of volunteers are committed to bidding on up to 14 of them and finding them foster homes until they are adopted. So far, seven families have stepped forward to foster one or two ponies for up to 90 days.

One of the foster homes belongs to Lorelei McCaffrey of Oregon City. She said she heard of the need for foster families from an acquaintance. As a horse lover and animal lover in general, McCaffrey offered up her five acres and barn, which currently hold no livestock.

“I just thought there aren’t people out there with the means to take care of them,” she said of the ponies. “They either don’t know how or don’t have the means. The least I could do is help out.”

McCaffrey pointed out that although the ponies are about the size of a large dog, they have different needs and require special care.

“”They can’t take care of themselves; it’s not like a wild animal,” she said.

McCaffrey said the two ponies will be a perfect fit during their stay on her property, saying her adult daughter and nieces and nephews are excited about the new additions.

Other families that have offered up their property are in Silverton, Montana, Happy Valley, Tualatin and Turner. Unfortunately, those living inside the West Linn city limits are not able to take in any miniature ponies, as special variances are needed and take time to get approved, according to Murphy.

The woman in Silverton offered to foster two ponies because three years ago PAWS took in a cat from her and she wanted to pay it forward. Since Murphy posted the plea for help on Facebook, word has spread on the plight of the ponies.

“It touched our hearts. The word has spread like little tentacles,” she said. “You never know who you are going to touch.”

Local Brownie Troop 45670 has committed to paying for the bid price of at least one of the ponies. The group of second-graders from Stafford Primary School is working on its philanthropy badges and troop leader Ellen Gass thought the ponies’ cause was a good match.

“You know how little girls and horses go together,” she said.

She said the power of teaching the girls that they could pool their resources and save a horse’s life would be a great lesson for the girls to learn.

Though it may seem strange for a cat shelter to be taking on ponies, the shelter is known for helping a variety of animals, including dogs, rabbits, turtles, squirrels, raccoons, chickens, ducklings, baby birds, pigeons and deer mice.

“We take in all kinds of oddball animals,” Murphy said of her more than 50 volunteers. “Nobody here is afraid to step outside the box.”

Shelley Straitiff of West Linn is one of the PAWS Animal Shelter volunteer army. She said the shelter’s reaction to the ponies “shows the heart of the shelter.”

Murphy and some volunteers will head to Grants Pass on Friday and will bid on horses no one else wants during the Saturday auction.

Though Murphy knows not everyone can foster an animal, especially one with special needs like a horse, she hopes people will step up with donations to help with the transportation of the horses, the bids and the care of the horses while in foster care, which costs about $15 a month in hay and grains.

“We can’t save everybody, but if we can make a difference for just one, it’s worth it. Together, there is nothing we can’t do,” Murphy said. “We may be small, but we’re mighty. I think that is what makes us unique and special.”

To contribute to the saving of the miniature ponies, call the PAWS Animal Shelter at 503-650-0855 or visit its Facebook page at You can also contribute via PayPal at

To see photos of the all the ponies, visit the auction website at

PAWS Animal Shelter is located at 1741 Willamette Falls Drive, West Linn, and is open Monday through Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.

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