FULTON, Miss. (WTVA) - An Itawamba County family is upset after a horse they purchased as a Christmas gift was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy.
Kevin Pierce and his family purchased the horse a few days before Christmas, but the horse ran away the night of Christmas Eve.
The horse, named Goldie, was several miles from its pasture, where it was brought to stay as a gift.
"I got up that morning to go feed,” Kevin Pierce said. “I spent about three hours searching for it [the horse] in the cold and called my wife and told her to go ahead and call the sheriff's department and report it; see if someone had seen it."
Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson said a deputy saw the horse on Interstate 22 roaming about in the dark.
The sheriff said 911 received several calls from frightened motorists.
The horse was put down because it was acting erratically and presented a danger to motorists on the freeway, the sheriff explained.
Dickinson said it was well within his rights for the horse to be taken down.
Kevin Pierce believes Goldie hopped over a cattle gap, which helps keeps cattle and horses from straying away.
However, Goldie being on the property for only a few days, jumped over the cattle gap.
The whole ordeal left his daughter, who loves to play with his other horses, in tears.
"And this is what we had to tell my daughter on Christmas Day, that her dream Christmas horse was gone," Misty Pierce said.
The family said they understand the horse presented a problem by running loose on the interstate. They wish the situation could have been handled differently.
Correction: Changed from Christmas Eve morning to Christmas Eve night.