Town officials want the horse gone

August 14, 2008 4:35:35 AM PDT
Talk about your one-horse town. This burg of 1,084 residents is just that.

But some folks don't want that distinction. They want an aging horse named Peter Rabbit, who lives in a pasture in town, gone for good.

Other folks say the horse should stay, despite an ordinance that bans livestock inside city limits.

"I feel bad for the poor horse. He's probably going to die soon anyway," said Jamie Cox, who manages the town bar, Sadie's Place. "As long as he's being taken care of, they should leave him alone."

Hickman, once a sleepy farm town, has become a bedroom community for the capital city of Lincoln and is one of the fastest-growing cities in Nebraska.

With houses having sprung up around Peter Rabbit's pasture, Mayor Jim Hrouda and five of the six City Council members are determined to enforce the livestock ban. Shortly after a council meeting Tuesday, the horse's owner, 76-year-old Harley Scott, was served an eviction notice that orders the animal off the land.

Scott said he has no intention of complying with the Sept. 15 deadline. He faces the prospect of being fined up to $100 a day if he's convicted of violating the ordinance.

Longtime council member Robert Harms said the livestock ordinance dates to 1988. He said allowing Peter Rabbit to stay would make it difficult to keep other livestock out.

Scott said he has raised Peter Rabbit since the brown Morgan-quarter horse crossbreed was born in his pasture in the spring of 1976. Scott said there have been horses on the land since his father bought 40 acres in 1935.

Only about four acres remain in the family. The rest has been sold to developers.

His land was annexed in 2006, but Scott said no one said anything to him at the time about having to give up the horse.

Scott said Peter Rabbit, who is as healthy as a 32-year-old horse can be, is too old to move. Horses have a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years.

"He could drop dead today," Scott said. "I would prefer to have him remain as stable as he is and be able to enjoy his life. I like to go out and pet him. It's just a matter of feeding and petting him."