Miles City, Montana, "where the prairies and people are open and friendly!" So reads the banner of the Miles City Star.
It seems, however, some folks around Miles City aren't so open and friendly. Someone, or a group of someones, in Custer County is shooting donkeys, the Loomis' donkeys in particular. Bonnie and Garry Loomis are pretty upset by the whole affair and so are their friends and neighbors who have already increased the Crime Stoppers reward to three times the usual reward.
Donkey reward up to $3,775
By Marla Prell
Six donkeys were shot along Sheffield Road either April 18 or 19. Four donkeys, one of them pregnant, died in the field. A jennie died a day later, leaving a week-old colt. Another jennie was injured, but she is recovering. A six-month-old filly was not injured. The donkeys belong to Bonnie and Garry Loomis.
“We’d love to have a good, substantial lead that we can follow, but we don’t have one yet,” Custer County Undersheriff Pat Roos said.
“We will follow up on every single lead we have,” he stressed. Authorities have received many tips, but most relate to what people have heard, rather than what they’ve seen. “We have sent some evidence to the crime lab, and we’re waiting for results,” Roos said.
As of Monday, the Crime Stoppers reward was up to $3,775. According to Miles City Police Sgt. Mark Reddick, Crime Stopper rewards are typically limited to $1,000, but if funds are earmarked for the donkey investigation the reward can exceed that amount. If the donkey case goes unsolved, the donations will be used for other Crime Stoppers investigations.
A local citizen, Clark Malvin, has taken it upon himself to approach businesses and others to raise reward money. Malvin also donated $100 of his own money. He is now working with Crime Stoppers. Malvin said his initial reaction to the donkey shootings wasn’t suitable for print, adding, “I’m still very upset about it.” Others he spoke to felt the same way, and they readily donated reward money.
Malvin was involved with a similar effort when he lived in Minnesota. Tips and reward money led to arrests and restitution for paintball vandals there. Referring to the local offenders, Malvin said, “If it’s kids, it’s too bad, but the parents, they should be held responsible. If it’s adults, I can’t tell you what I’d do to them.”
“What did those little donkeys ever do to anyone?” he asked. The Loomis family also don’t understand why their donkeys were targeted. "I would like them (the offenders) caught,” Bonnie said in an interview Tuesday. “And I don’t have hatred in my heart for people ... I just think they should pay for what they did. She also expressed a desire to know “‘why did you do it?’”
The Loomises have been surprised and pleased by the community response, however. “We’ve got a lot of wonderful people that have called,” Bonnie said. “We’ve had people who’ve called crying, we’ve had people that drove by (before), and said they missed them.”
The remaining three donkeys are doing as well as can be expected. The older jennie is recovering, Bonnie said. “She’s up on her feet now. She gets penicillin shots daily. She’s still dragging one hind leg; we’re hoping she’ll get the use of it, but she’s still hurting.
“Crackers (the filly) is doing good. She runs, bucks and kicks, happy as a little meadowlark.” Initially Crackers had difficulty taking a bottle and was wobbly due to a lack of vitamins, but a shot remedied that. The uninjured 6-month-old filly is doing well.
In addition to the Crime Stoppers reward, there is a fund to assist the Loomises with veterinary bills and other costs. Jeff and Bernie Skidmore, who admired the Loomises’ donkeys and had bought one from them, have been seeking donations on their behalf.
“It’s been very wonderful of people,” Bonnie said of the donations and support. “I just can’t possibly thank them enough."
Such wanton cruelty to harmless, innocent animals in inexcusable. It's shame sometimes that law books came West with the settlers. There was a time when folks knew how to deal with animal killers.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.