Five-year-old Rylee Brett loved Chicken Nugget, her 25-inch-tall dwarf pony. When she was little, she would ride him around like a rodeo horse. When she got too big, he would sit down with the family and watch TV, reported KPRC.
Then, on the morning of Nov. 8, the family went outside to check on him in a fenced-in pen and found him shot to death at close range, reported the Houston Chronicle.
Kylee Brett, Rylee’s mother, posted the news to Facebook in an emotional message.
“RIP Chicken Nugget. You now have your wings and are flying high,” she wrote. “My heart is absolutely shattered as I try to find the words. The way you were taken from us was an act of a coward. Our smiles will never be quite as big as we drive through the pasture to watch you play.”
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She added that “whoever stepped foot on our property and point blank shot him in the face will pay.”
The Bretts called the police and game warden to their ranch home in Hull, Texas. On Facebook, Brett wrote she had no idea who could have done the killing, but had some ideas for how it could have happened. “There is no mistaking that they did it out of hatred,” she told WVTM.
“One theory of ours is a poacher did this to him that was spotlighting...the problem is, you don't mistake him as a deer within such a short distance while being with 4 other horses,” she wrote. Spotlighting is a controversial hunting technique where hunters use bright lights to detect the reflection in an animal’s eyes at night and stun them, reported Lubbock Online.
Rylee’s mother wrote on Facebook that her daughter was “confused, sad, happy (when we talk about our sweet memories), mad, and devastated,” but that she had been encouraged by an overwhelming show of support from people across the country. “She still isn't understanding. Everyone's sweet messages and comments are truly making her see there is still so much good in the world!,” her mother wrote on Facebook.
The case truly has brought out prayers and well-wishes from people across the country. Brett’s original post has been shared more than 3,000 times, and in the comments, several people posted photos of their own ponies and horses and offered to send them to Rylee.
The family is still seeking answers in the case, and Rylee’s mother wrote on Facebook that police and the game warden told her they felt confident that Chicken Nugget’s shooting could be solved.
“Our hearts are broken,” she told KPRC. “Very broken, and we’ll always miss him, we’ll always have that piece of our heart that’s broken. But good memories always help the heart heal a little faster.”