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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview with Dena Lopez, Stephanie Church

Aired July 21, 2003 - 19:35   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Stories abound -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) excuse me. Stories about the horses bred in Kentucky tend to be about speed, power, and grace, because the horses have all of those things. But they're usually not about mysterious and deadly attacks carried out under the cover of darkness.
This report is about the latter. Someone, police still do not know whom, is responsible for injecting prize show horses with poison after sneaking into the stables of the Double D Ranch on a June night. Three of the horses had to be euthanized, put to sleep by veterinarians. Two others are expected to recover.

Police and the owners of the horses are left with the questions, who would do something like that, and why.

One of the owners, Dena Lopez, joins me from Lexington, Kentucky, as does Stephanie Church, news editor of "The Horse" magazine.

Appreciate both of you joining us.

Ms. Lopez, you have had three horses that have died from this poisoning. How stunned were you when you found out what had happened?

DENA LOPEZ, DOUBLE D RANCH: Very shocked. We're still pretty shocked about what has taken place. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COOPER: Do you understand what happened? I mean, how -- when did you first notice there was a problem? You came home one night, you had been out, you saw there was something wrong with the horses, right?

LOPEZ: Yes. We'd been showing horses all week long. And we had gotten home by 11:00 at night, and we were taking the horses off the trailer, and I noticed that one of them was a little extra active in his stall. And when we went in there, we noticed that his stall was a mess, and that he was sore in the left front leg.

COOPER: And we're looking at video right now of some of these horses being treated. Whatever was injected, some kind of poison allegedly injected into these horses' legs, it basically left them lame. Explain what happened, Dena.

LOPEZ: Well, it started out with swelling of the leg. And by Tuesday, two of them had a hole. It had just eaten away the skin and made a hole in them. Where Tuesday, we also found three others with the same symptoms.

COOPER: Stephanie have you ever seen anything like this? And are police saying -- I know they're being pretty tight-lipped. But what is the suspicion right now of what went on?

STEPHANIE CHURCH, EDITOR, "THE HORSE" MAGAZINE: Well, police aren't saying much right now. My calls to the police station in Frankfurt, they've said that it's an ongoing investigation, and they can't comment on it at this point.

I haven't heard of or seen anything like this before. It's -- the horse industries are tight-knit industries. The people love their horses. It's very surprising that something like this would happen.

COOPER: Obviously these horses are heavily insured. Why would anyone want to do this? I mean, does suspicion fall, I guess, on potential owners or potential competitors to some of these horses?

CHURCH: I don't have the information on who was insured and who wasn't. Dena may be better able to answer that question for you.

COOPER: Well, I don't...

LOPEZ: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COOPER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I don't really want to -- we don't need to go into the details of that. But, I mean, just in general, I mean, this has got to be somebody who knows horses pretty well, yes?

LOPEZ: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I don't think a non-horse person could have made it into those horses' stalls and gotten close to those horses' pasterns with a syringe if they didn't know what they were doing.

COOPER: Well, Stephanie, I know to you, for -- from "Horse" magazine, this is a story for Dena Lopez, this is just a tragedy. I know these horses are your life, and I'm so sorry for your loss, and appreciate both of you coming in to talk about it. It is just a mystery...

LOPEZ: Thank you.

CHURCH: Thank you.

COOPER: ... we're going to continue to follow, try to get to the bottom of what happened to these horses.

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