Couple’s horse dies in hurricane flood

Published 9:32 pm Monday, October 31, 2016

While Hurricane Matthew is a distant memory for some Suffolk residents, others — such as the Talleys, who operate a nonprofit animal sanctuary in southern Suffolk — are still recovering.

The Talleys’ home and surrounding property on Longstreet Lane suffered such severe flooding the night of the storm that one of their horses drowned.

Shooter, a gentle, brown horse who was about 25 years old, was found several days later after the water receded near his pasture. A chicken also died in the flood.

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If it weren’t for the quick work of Robert Talley after the rest of his family had been evacuated by boat thanks to the Whaleyville Volunteer Fire Department, many more animals housed at the Abused and Thrown Away Pet Sanctuary would have died.

“I’ve got to give a thumbs up to Whaleyville rescue squad,” Talley said. “They were great.”

He worked all night long to move about 32 dogs, as well as cats and goats, to higher ground after 18 inches of water got in the house and as much as 51 inches got in the garage and outbuildings used to house animals.

Shooter had lived at the sanctuary for about nine years. He had only one eye and had previously been used for barrel-racing, Robert Talley said.

When the storm struck on the night of Oct. 8, Talley said, he didn’t think the storm was supposed to be that bad in this area.

But by the wee hours of the morning, it became obvious that wasn’t the case.

When he saw their other horse, Jingles, standing head-high in water at the highest point of the pasture, he feared the worst.

“I knew right then that Shooter must have gotten washed away,” he said.

Talley and others managed to coax Jingles into the closet of a horse shelter for that night. She suffered an injury to her leg — Talley thinks she struck it on a trailer parked in the pasture while struggling to get to higher ground — but is now on the mend.

“She’s been really lonely,” he said, adding that he plans to get a donkey to keep her company.

Shooter was buried in the pasture, and Talley said he has plans to build a memorial.

The Talleys are still making repairs to their home, and it took a 10-man crew working two weeks to put up new fencing around the pasture.

Visit to find out more about the sanctuary.