Elsa’s Law Petition administrator Elisabeth Carroll said she first learned about DDRSFH in Hamilton Fort, Utah when the story about a yearling found frozen to the ground broke and sparked nationwide attention.
She said that though she had liked their facebook page, she hadn’t gotten directly involved until a donor from Colorado offered DDRSFH a sling to help Elsa stand up so she could regain strength in her legs. The sling was only six hours away, and Carroll said she hoped she could find a way to get it to Elsa faster than the mail.
“I’m really good at logistics,” she said. “So, I just jumped in.”
Carroll said that when Elsa passed away and people started tossing around the idea of Elsa’s law, she thought it would be good to start a petition to show legislators exactly how much support the new bill would have.
“I know that there have been a lot of positive things that have come out of different change.org petitions,” Caroll said. “So, I went in and started the two petitions.”
Carroll said she started two petitions, one for Utah residents only, and one for supporters who live outside of the state limits, but still support Elsa’s law.
According to change.org the two petitions have a combined total of 7683 as of Wednesday at 5 p.m., but both need another 20,000 votes still to reach their goal.
Carroll said the law making process is time consuming, but she is not discouraged. She said she attended Humane Lobby Day Feb. 6 and learned a lot about how laws are made, and how to be a good advocate on behalf of the laws
“It was very interesting and helpful,” she said. “We were not there specifically to promote Elsa’s Law, because they are in the middle of the session right now, and it’s too late to enter in a new bill.”
According to aspca.org, Humane Lobby Day provides “animal advocates with a structured, comfortable setting in which to meet their elected officials,” get an opportunity to network, and learn how to organize and present ideas in the best way possible to achieve action.
Carroll said that her goal is to have Elsa’s law written in a way that will protect horses from extreme cruelty, even if having them labeled as companion animals does not make the cut.
“Even if it takes several sessions of legislature over a period of years I see a positive outcome,” she said. “And I think this is the first step is saying – if you’re going to mistreat your animals, people are going to know about it, and there’s going to be consequences.”
Elsa’s story began Jan. 2, when Enoch Animal Control officer Chris Johnson said she received a call about a horse that was alive and frozen to the ground. She said that in her entire 9-year career as an Enoch animal control officer she had never seen anything like the scene that awaited her.
According to the warrant affidavit submitted to the Iron County 5th District Court Jan. 2 by Enoch police chief Jackson Ames, there was sufficient evidence to take custody of the yearling and her mother, based on Utah’s animal cruelty statutes from horse owner Sonn Kent Berrett, 4676 N. Enoch rd., Enoch, Utah.
Berrett was charged with two counts of cruelty to an animal, a class B misdemeanor; two counts of failure to obtain a dog license; and two counts of failure to obtain a rabies vaccination, each an infraction.
Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett said the County Attorney’s Office is not looking to amend the charges at this time. He said in order to be able to increase the misdemeanors to felonies he has to be able to prove that Elsa was poisoned, intentionally murdered, or tortured, as based on the legal definition of torture. He said the legal definition of torture requires an individual to use a physical action repeatedly to cause bodily harm.
He said that whenever a case of extreme animal abuse is before the court, prosecutors are bound by what is written in the letter of the law.
“Our job is to enforce the law as it exists on the books,” Garrett said. “Even if we felt like (a case was extreme) our hands are tied.”
Garrett said that to prove intent is very difficult no matter what the case is that is being considered, because he has to be able to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that an individual was thinking something specific when they were committing the act they were charged with. He said there was a difference between specific intent, and the results that culminate from not doing something.
DDRSFH sounder Ginger Grimes said the rescue is still working hard to help horses in need. Since Elsa’s passing, she said she has gotten in more rescues who are in terrible shape.
“We did get in another skinny horse with a possible gunshot wound,” she said. “Just hear say, (Dr.) Bagley cannot confirm that.”
As far as Elsa’s mother, Anna, Grimes said she is doing well on the ranch, and her scores are improving. When she initially came to DDRSFH she was severely malnourished, but Grimes said that through the past few weeks she has been eating good food, and getting plenty of follow-up care.
“She has had her feet done and was worked in by doc Henneman twice,” she said. “She also did blood work again – nothing out of the ordinary for a severely malnourished horse.
“Her values have been getting better over the past few weeks of receiving proper nutrition,” she added.
Grimes said it sometimes difficult to consider that so much good fortune has come from such a horrific event. She said she sometimes wonders ‘why did it have to be this?’, but she said she understands that Elsa had deeper purpose. She said a quote from Dr. Kim Henneman about Elsa being a “moonchild” has stuck with her ever since, and marks a special place in her heart.
“She came to you on the first new moon of the year and left on the first full moon.” Henneman said. “New moons are about starting new things and full moons are about creation coming to fulfillment – She came to start a dialogue between her species and ours – She came to help you and what you are trying to do.”
Berrett’s initial appearance is March 25, at 2:30 p.m. at the Iron County Justice Court, 82 N. 100 East, Suite 101, Cedar City, Utah.
More information about Elsa's story can be learned by watching the youtube video below: