Owner of 13 horses killed in fire fears for safety

WOOD-TV photo

LOWELL TOWNSHIP, MI (WOOD) — A Lowell Township barn owner whose 13 therapy horses were killed in a fire filed a personal protection order days after the tragedy.

Court records obtained by 24 Hour News 8 show Kat Welton filed the order against a man who lived down the road from The Barn for Equine Learning on Timpson Avenue in Lowell Township.

In the order, Welton said she met the man in 2015 when his father asked if he could volunteer at the barn, which was a safe haven for kids and teens overcoming trauma and abuse.

She said the 20-year-old man would often come on her property wearing camouflage and carrying a gun. One time he brought a dead owl to her house, the order states.

It appears the situation escalated after that.

In the order, Welton said the man admitted to cutting her pasture fences and being in the barn at night after a horse was found tied to its stall wall with no water and objects in the stall. The horse’s eye was injured a month later, according to the document.

The order states Welton met with the man and his father to make it clear he could not be on the property. At some point, they discussed a family dog found dead in the man’s bed. His father ordered an autopsy and toxicology tests on the dog, the court document states.

After that, Welton said trail cameras were taken from the property, water buckets were flipped and a horse was let out, according to the order.

In February, the 20-year-old man appeared at night at Welton’s home, claiming he was lost and wanting permission to be on her property, the order states.

On Feb. 15, a volunteer contacted Welton to notify her someone had chained shut the barn door, according to the court record.

Welton has told 24 Hour News 8 the barn doors were chained from the inside before it burned down on April 8, killing 13 of her horses. The property’s fencing had also been cut in eight places, according to the court order.

Welton said in the order that before the fire, the man had posted on Facebook, “What doesn’t kill the girl makes her stronger.”

Welton filed the personal protection order on April 13, saying she felt unsafe on her property. A judge approved the order that day.

So far, authorities have not announced any arrests in connection to the fire, but they have said they’re investigating it as a criminal act. Welton has said she believes someone connected to the barn or area is responsible.

Authorities questioned a person of interest in the case then released him or her.

Shortly after the fire, someone donated seven miniature horses to the Barn for Equine Learning.

A GoFundMe account has also been set up to help the nonprofit organization rebuild.