POLK CITY, Fla. — First, she was caught riding her horse drunk on a busy Lakeland highway. Now, the court has ruled a Polk City woman is unfit to care for the animal.
ABC Action News discovered the one thing she must accomplish before winning back custody of her horse, Bo Dukes.
“We know that Donna has done the same things before, you know she fell off the horse even once on the trail down there even maybe leaving here,” Paul Fussell says he was not surprised when he hear of Donna Byrne’s arrest for DUI.
However, a DUI on a horse, Fussell has never heard of.
“Not on a horse, but maybe on a lawn mower,” he added.
Fussell said he’s familiar with Byrnes, she had been around to ride her horse before.
Bo Dukes, her one and only horse is now staying with Paul Fussell on his ranch filled with other animals like horses, cows, dogs and more.
When ABC Action News stopped by to talk with Fussell, he was sitting in his barn, among 25 other award-winning horses, Bo Dukes now living along side them.
We asked Fussell how Donna was doing since her arrest and our report of the unusual charge.
“She is doing really good right now, I think she realizes where she’s been and I hope she knows where she’s going,” he said.
Fussell says we are all guilty of drinking too much at times, but says he’s never found himself riding a horse while drunk.
The ranch owner also said, horses are very sensitive to human emotion and is surprised Donna didn’t hurt herself or anyone else while she was riding intoxicated.
In November, Polk County deputies arrested Byrnes, who blew a .157, nearly twice the limit.
Investigators say many drivers called in to report Byrnes who was swaying in and out of the saddle and riding into traffic.
“I feel for her because I’d like to see her get her life straightened out,” Paul Fussell said.
A Polk County judge ruled that Donna Byrnes is not fit to care for her animal at the time being, even though she’s showed extreme love and admiration for Bo Dukes.
The court recommended treatment for Byrnes and is allowing her visitation at the Fussell farm.
After treatment, Byrnes may be reassessed and given custody back of her horse.
“That’s all she has she has, this horse. And she loves this horse, and that’s all she has basically in her life,” Fussel said.
ABC Action News reached out to Donna Byrnes, but she was not interested in giving an interview.
Fussell says Byrnes has already been by to visit and feed her horse, Bo Dukes, and says he is confident she will follow through with treatment in order to regain custody of her horse.
“I’d like to see her life straightened out and maybe get her horse back and maybe ride him again,” Fussell said.