Readers touched by pony story

The Oct. 18 Minot Daily News article about the killing of Dave Boppre’s pet pony, Bad Boy, in Bottineau the night of Sept. 24 created a flurry of response online and through phone and email. Two reward funds for the conviction of the people or person responsible have been set up for people who wish to contribute.

“I had 27 messages left on my machine last night,” Boppre said Tuesday evening.

He added that he had heard the same outpouring of response is occurring at the Bottineau County Sheriff’s Department, the agency responsible for the investigation, and the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, a group forming a reward fund.

Bottineau County Sheriff Steve Watson confirmed that his office has received emails and some calls on the matter. Unfortunately, he said, there are no updates or developments in the case since the Oct. 18 story ran. He did say that he is looking into four possible leads as of Friday afternoon.

He asks that anyone with information call his office at 701-228-2740.

The topic generating the most public input has been the reward fund. People want to know how they can help out, and Boppre now has answers. There are two locations to send donations.

The first is directly to Boppre himself. The other is to the Turtle Mountain Veterinary Service.

Veterinary clinic staff contacted Boppre soon after hearing of the incident to see if they could help in some way.

“There’s so little that we can do but maybe this way we could make things a little easier,” said a spokeswoman for the organization, who wishes to remain anonymous.

She agreed that support has been phenomenal, with calls coming not just locally but nationwide.

All contributions to the reward fund will go into a savings account. If after three years the case isn’t solved, or is solved without a tip claiming the reward, the money is to be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, based in Memphis, Tenn. The hospital is renowned as a treatment center and for research that has contributed to the field of children’s medicine.

“Being as the horse loved kids and the kids loved him, it’s the best thing we can do,” Boppre said of the plan.

He did add, though, that contributors who don’t want their money donated to St. Jude’s can have contributions returned to them if no reward is paid. Donations will be documented so they can be returned if requested.

A donation container in the lobby of a bank in Bottineau had only about $250 in it when Boppre spoke to The Minot Daily News for the Oct. 18 story. But that has since changed.

“It’s been coming in steady every day,” Boppre said of the contributions. Some significant pledges remain outstanding so Boppre had no official figure on the amount in the fund to date.

He also stressed that any amount is appreciated and helpful in, hopefully, bringing the culprit or culprits to justice.

“Myself and the family really appreciates all the support from the community and all the love that everyone has given us,” Boppre said. “I can’t even describe the response that we’ve had.”

The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association set up an independent reward fund of up to $10,000.

“Animal stewardship is a priority for North Dakota stockmen,” Jason Zahn, president of the association and a Towner-based cow-calf producer, said in a prepared statement. “Ranchers are committed to helping solve this senseless crime, and we are hopeful that the reward will be a catalyst in making that happen.”