By Keith Gushard
As an Athens Township horse continues to recover from being set on fire 10 weeks ago, northwestern Pennsylvania horse owners and horse fanciers are set to rally this Saturday in Erie County to draw attention to animal cruelty.
Northstar, a 6-year-old paint horse owned by Jessie Woodworth of Centerville, was doused with a flammable liquid and then set on fire between 7 p.m. Aug. 25 and 6 p.m. Aug. 26 while in an Athens Township pasture, according to Pennsylvania State Police at Corry. The suspect in the case remains unknown.
“We want to raise awareness and money,” said Jayne May, an organizer of Saturday’s rally and a friend of Woodworth’s. The event includes a horse ride-in from the Erie area to Waterford with 100 horses expected to participate.
Funds raised will be used to help pay for Northstar’s ongoing medical care, May said.
Woodworth said she and her family are overwhelmed by the support given to Northstar.
“There have been a lot of supplies donated. We appreciate everything people are willing to do for him,” she said Sunday. “It’s just amazing what the horse community is like. People in it are always willing to help each other.”
May and other horse and animal enthusiasts are hoping to get Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty law updated to a felony level when the state’s new legislative session convenes in January. Currently, animal cruelty is only a misdemeanor offense in Pennsylvania.
Northstar sustained burns on more than 70 percent of its body from the incident and is recovering at Ohio State University Veterinary School where it was sent for burn treatment.
Northstar had 80 plug-type skin grafts on Oct. 20 and each graft is 8 millimeters in size, Woodworth said. Each 8-mm graft is equal to 0.31 inches. Northstar is scheduled to get another 60 plug-type skin grafts on Tuesday.
The horse also has had stem cell therapy injections into its back to help stimulate new skin growth in the burn areas.
Stem cells are biological cells found in all multicellular organisms, that can divide and differentiate into diverse specialized cell types and can self-renew to produce more stem cells. Stem cells that lie just beneath the skin have been used by scientists to engineer new skin tissue that can be grafted.
Northstar is doing well at Ohio State, but the drawback is there isn’t a pasture at the facility, according to Woodworth.
“It’s great, but it’s a medical facility,” she said. “He needs to act like a horse. He was always free in the pasture. He’s not used to being cooped up at all. That’s getting to him more than anything else.”
Following this week’s round of skin grafts, plans call for Northstar to be sent to a farm in Ohio for physical therapy for a few weeks before additional grafts are done.
Woodworth will travel to Columbus, Ohio, later this week to see Northstar and get an update on his condition.
Learning of Northstar’s plight this past summer is what drew Rick Kreider, an Erie-area horse enthusiast, to coordinate Saturday’s upcoming ride-in.
“I have six of them and all of us owners love our horses,” he said. “This ride (of 100 horses) will be very visible to the public.”
The ride of about 3 miles will be from the parking lot of Eriez Speedway, 9821 Sampson Road, Erie, south to the clubhouse at Mound Grove Golf Course, 10760 Donation Road, Waterford. Those wanting to participate in the ride are asked to get sponsors, Kreider said.
The horses and riders will set out at noon to arrive at the golf course by 1 p.m.
The rally itself will be from 1 to 6 p.m. at the clubhouse of the golf course. The rally features a rigatoni and meatball dinner, pick-a-prize auction, raffles, and other fund-raisers as well as entertainment. Tickets for the rally $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can help
A rally and fundraiser for Northstar, an Athens Township horse injured when it was set on fire in late August, will be Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. at the clubhouse at Mound Grove Golf Course, 10760 Donation Road, Waterford.
Tickets for the Rally for Northstar are on sale at helpnorthstar.com and are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
n More information: Call Rick Kreider at (814) 490-3007 for information on the ride-in; or Jayne May at (814) 868-7963 for the rally.