From the Department of you just gotta Know this Guy got Abused as a Child.

Via Waylon Lewis
on May 31, 2010
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John McCulley Jr. starves elderly horse, drags across field by neck with roped tied to pickup, then shoots horse.

Jail time? Nah: “He’s sorry.”


The second time Mr. McCulley, Jr., has been busted for abusing animals to the point where “abuse” doesn’t even account for the horror he’s visited upon these poor, feeling sentient beings.

Excerpt via the Denver Post:

A man who dragged an elderly and malnourished horse through a pasture with his pickup truck was sentenced Thursday to one year in jail for felony aggravated animal cruelty…

…McCulley tied a rope to the neck of a horse named Blue, connected the rope to his pickup and drove quickly out of a pasture north of his Arvada home in June 2009.

The horse was dragged at least 60 feet.

At the scene, Deputies found Blue lying on the ground on his right side. The horse was described as being “extremely emaciated,” with his left hip bone sticking out and his spine and ribs clearly visible…

…The weapons plea was the result of McCulley possessing a rifle, which he used to euthanize Blue as officers watched.

Deputy District Attorney Alexis King, who likened Blue’s condition to that of a victim of a concentration camp, asked Tidball to sentence McCulley to prison saying it “was the only appropriate sentence.”

Tidball declined, saying she thought McCulley was sorry.

Authorities also charged McCulley with 36 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty in connection with his lack of care of 16 other horses who were seized in May 2009.

Many of those horses had been seized in a prior animal abuse case against McCully, in 2007.

…For the rest, go to the Denver Post.

Moral of the story?

Abuse leads to abuse.

We learn how not to control our temper by watching our parents. End the cycle. Breathe into those moments. As the Buddhists say, when anger fires your blood, make yourself as a piece of wood—don’t move. Walk out the door instead of confronting. Remember, in the case of animals, that pain doesn’t teach anything—they don’t understand anything except that you’re mad at them.

A search warrant wasn’t used in the 2007 case, and the horses taken at the time were returned to McCulley in 2008 in “healthy condition.”…for the rest, go to Denver Post.

An unrelated, but similar situation:


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


13 Responses to “From the Department of you just gotta Know this Guy got Abused as a Child.”

  1. Hunter says:

    And then there is Abby Toll…

  2. vita

    Sara L S
    oh come on. If I wanted to see shockjock horror at nighttime I'd turn on Fox. What was the point of this? Do you think there are a shortage of gruesome images in this world, and that propagating those images is somehow beneficial for us or the energy of the universe? You feel sick so you barfed on us. Thanks.
    Yes there are cruel sadistic stupid people out there. And they reflect a side of our inner selves we'd rather ignore.
    And we dont need you to remind us before bedtime.

    Kisty Marie Stephens
    Thank you Sara Stein! I agree with you!

    Tamara MM
    Hurts too much…please don't show me this.

    Jerry E
    yay Sara! what she said.

    Maya C
    Why, elephantjournal, why?

    Monica S
    Thank you, Sara. I agree. I didn't need this before bedtime either.

    Lisa T. B
    Ick! Me, too! Enough suffering in the world – don't need to see more.

    Mandie J
    I'm in full agreement with you Sara … I'm yet again questioning my judgement in adding this page, when I have deleted it in the past over tasteless "mindful" postings!

    Losang S
    We really do need to have the wisdom to withdraw and re coop. I am learning this lesson…. again! Not to bash anyone, just that we need to know when to take a break, I guess. I've been trying to limit my posts lately, as far as negative things are concerned. I don't want to over whelm myself and others, as we are not so useful then!

    Honestly? All of it is making me really ill. I have to go see specialists. I need to work on balance in my life.

    Losang Smith
    "Abuse leads to abuse.

    We learn how not to control our temper by watching our parents. End the cycle. Breathe into those moments. As the Buddhists say, when anger fires your blood, make yourself as a piece of wood… See More—don’t move. Walk out the door instead of confronting. Remember, in the case of animals, that pain doesn’t teach anything—they don’t understand anything except that you’re mad at them."

    This ended on a very positive note though. I really am thankful for this bit about what to do with anger…. It has been a topic that I and my friends have been discussing quite a bit today.

    Thank you for that. It really helps. _ /\\_
    Thank you, Losang. I felt this was important to share, not because it's horrifying, which it is, but because it can wake us up to compassion, to suffering, and to working to end abuse, whether domestic abuse or toward our animal friends.

    I think that's a worthwhile thing.
    Losang's quote above is from my article…I hope those who don't want to look at this, or resent elephant sharing it, will read that quote. My life has been touched by abuse, at a young age, and I've only been able to recover by staring at it in the face, and learning how to work with my own reactions.

    The frequency of animal abuse is out of control, and almost never reported.

  3. more from

    Nonsense. I believe you put it up for the shock value, not the lesson in compassion. We are inundated by horror everyday. You just added to it. For the most part I love your posts. For those I thank you.

    Karki M
    Sara, if it's a story that features a picture of someone other than the Dalai Lama in an orange outfit, it's probably not going to be a good bedtime story. Probably won't be happy reading at any hour, really.

    Part of me says that the story's focus on cruelty is missing a bigger issue: why do people want to own animals in the first place? I don't… See More want to own anything alive, and I question the motives of those who think that giving someone a cute animal will lead to some sort of blossoming of compassion. I'm often a cynic rather than a skeptic, but I see most of the "love" expressed in human/animal contact to be either anthropomorphizing or shallow.

    Yes, some people get great pleasure in taking care of animals, but I'm not a fan of the practice. Sorry to be a killjoy, but that's what I think. And that's not to say I think it's okay if a jerk starves and abuses his animals, because it's just plain not right. Still, if it was a sick cow, most of us wouldn't think twice about later, after commercial processing, feeding it to our dog or cat. But since it's a horse, it's a tragedy. Sorry to ruin your bedtime, Sara.

    Losang S
    Well whatever the motive was, I do thank you, because I really got something from it.

    Titilia C
    Thank You EJ and Sara. I am sure we all know what to do here on.

    Carol B
    The world is absolutely chock full of people doing appalling things. If you ignore it, it won't go away. If you stick your nose in it for titillation factor, it won't get any better. If you look at your heart and your commonality with the perp when you become aware of cruelty, yourself's or others', you might have a chance. We all might have a chance. What's the antidote to ignorance, kids?

    David McK
    @karki: yeah, "owning" can be weird, but does having an animal companion really seem that different from having human companions, from a basic love perspective at least?

    Darrin Buehler
    I choose to believe the positive intent of elephantjournal. If you have been touched by abuse, then you know that sometimes you feel provoked by external stories and situations, and sometimes you feel compelled to respond, in a way that is different than other beings, who do not have similar wiring. I have cried when nobody else is crying; I have … See Moreshouted justice louder than those around me.
    If I look at elephantjournal over the course of their mindful existence, I feel trustful, even confident, that this struck a chord for someone touched by abuse, wanting to foster change.
    Metta on us all.

    David McK
    *and* the headline gives a very clear idea of what the story's about…so don't click if it'll upset you

  4. more from
    Marcia S
    Elephantjournal does so much right and has some of the best stuff I read on FB. While this isn't the kind of thing I ever want to see… I know when I see a post like this that some tender heart is grieving for the animals and I see love despite the ugliness of the story. Then I think of all the people who don't act to stop animal abuse, not … See Morebecause they don't care, but because they are blissfully unaware it exists. Haven't you ever had a conversation with someone who eats meat and thinks that slaughterhouses can't possibly be that bad because this is the 21st century and the government regulates that sort of thing? Awareness for animals has to be raised somehow. You can get upset with the messenger but the clip was clearly labeled and its better to just not open it if it isn't something you can handle. Frankly, I really just glanced at it myself. Yet I'm thankful that there are compassionate people in this world who are making sure that animal rights is an issue that is hard to forget.

    Cheryle A
    I was given enough information that allowed me to choose not to watch, … I know it would have been too upsetting for me to see. … don't kill the messenger.

    Karki M
    I think animals are lesser beings*, and so "loving" them is not to be confused with actual love for an equal. There's something deeply sad about someone who is lonely but settles for an animal. Likewise, it's not good that someone who is hateful takes that out on an animal.

    Maybe I'm shallow, or maybe I'm too deep, but I just don't see much … See Morevalue in loving something that will love me after ignoring it for days on end if I offer a bread crust. I can choose to ignore its stupidity and praise its devotion to me, but I wouldn't want to love anything or anyone that does that just for what that would mean about me.

    *This doesn't imply that they are worthless, just worth less than people.

    Dario F
    It's part of this world. Thus, stories like this have to be included. If not, then which world are you living in?

    Mandie J
    EJ, I think some of your contributors need a refresher course in basic communication skills around ethical and morally responsible "reporting"!

    Jack Daw
    I don't see these things too often. Nor do I want to. But Elephant did present what they deamed an important post about the torture of animals.

    Same thing with posted pictures/videos of slaughterhouses. I have seen enough abuse of (humans and otherwise) to know that it hurts to look at but we need to understand that it happens.

    Do I think this… See More was sensationalized? I don't really know. I read and was horrified by the story. I didn't see any video and if I did I would probably choose not to view it. If I did view it, my heart would be filled with compassion for the poor animal and not disdain for the post that brought it to my attention.

    But I do agree that it has everything to do with intent.


    Barry T
    Turning a blind eye to the suffering of others is being selfish. Not shining a light on the subject. You should not read the story if it bothers you that much. The rest of us can and should keep informed of this reality of the world we live in.

  5. Bboy R
    Elephant Journal, thank you for posting the article and your reason for doing so. I share your experience and most recently exposed that an elderly, disabled person I befriended was being abused. Sad to say that most people I saught help from regarding helping the individual expressed that abuse is common. The apathy expressed by those who … See Moredislike your posting this article reflects the same negative energy I felt from some of the people I approached, when seeking help for the victim. My not giving up on exposing the truth, despite how dark and painful it was to see what the abused victim was experiencing, saved his life. Thank you for having the strength and heart to call attention to the suffering of others. Abuse and neglect are not things we can shut off, like lighting, before we go to bed. If that were the case, I'd have the service disconnected permanently!

    Mandie J
    Tell me, Mr Lewis, are you simply after the high ratings around the number of comments to your posting again??? When are you going to step in here with your NAME behind your comment?

    Cindi S
    I love elephantjournal. I clicked "dislike" because many abusive people barely get a slap on the wrist. I do not understand why preventing and ending abuse is not a priority in this country. I will continue to recommend ej, I can't say I have ever thought of ej as a "negative….". Elephantjournal is "for" improving humanity, not the opposite… See More. I can't think of one info/media source that I read or listen to where I like everything I read or hear. I "like" the local news pages, but I "hide" their posts because there are too many negative things.

    Angie Brown Hammond
    "The frequency of animal abuse is out of control, and almost never reported." EJ This statement is so true! Thank you EJ for bringing this to the attention of people, whether they want to think about it or not. Making people upset before bedtime is not even close to the pain many animals feel day in day out. I think statements like Sara's "Yes … See Morethere are cruel sadistic stupid people out there. And they reflect a side of our inner selves we'd rather ignore. And we don't need you to remind us before bedtime." are very selfish. Think about the animals not yourselves. This vegan appreciates you bringing cruelty like this to everyone's attention. Thank you EJ!

    Andrea R
    This is a rather interesting litany of responses, and elephant should be commended for sparking dialogue and creating community discussion. I'm of the mind of not clicking on articles that I know will disturb me, and also not shooting the messenger; that's an oldie but a goodie.

    Jen N
    Sara, look at the bad vibe train you started. I hope this bad karma doesn't follow you. Take a look inward for a moment. Yup, I think I see the devil, too.
    Mandie, the way Pages work, when you're an admin on a Page, your name doesn't appear, you just appear as elephant (in this case). That's why all three of our admins who post content here—Bob, Lynn and myself–appear as "elephant." We're not trying to hide, and the post above is clearly marked by yours truly — Waylon.

  6. elephantjournal says:

    Well, I didn't put forth any of those stereotypes—you did, Kelsi. Surprised to hear such a charge-in-the-form-of-a-generalization from you.

    What is true, and well-established, and something I have firsthand experience with, is that so, so many of those of us who have grown up with abuse go on abuse others. Generations, in my family alone. That said, we can heal from that, you're absolutely right on that count.

    The title was intended with compassion. To see or guess at the roots of this mans lack of caring for animals, demonstrated again and again.

  7. Chuck L
    If slaughterhouses had glass walls…

    People don't like to be reminded of cruelty and suffering of this sort… because their consciences may feel twinges, possibly compelling them to DO something.

    Mandie Jayne
    Mr. Lewis, I have my own Page that I share with another administrator and I know how they work. Trust me, your name is NOT attached to this article, except on the Copyright at the bottom. I'm terribly sorry for the abuse that you and others have suffered. I've been there myself. That is precisely what makes me "mindful." In case it's not … See Moreobvious to you, I've made my points with you regarding the same issues around a different topic ~ variations on a theme, you might say. My previous comments would have come to you with the name "Amanda Jayne" attached.

    Shakti Dancer
    you dont want to see horrific images before bed? what are you 5? watch it-handle it-share it.

    Mandie Jayne
    I CAN handle it, or I wouldn't keep revisiting this post to make my point, would I??? … sensationalism and shock-horror does nothing for this cause!!! (I may have agreed with Sara's comments, but the "bedtime story" figures not in the overall argument) Namaste, Shakti Dancer … what are you???

    Shakti D
    what do you mean what am i?

    Mandie J
    ***read your own post, Shakti Dancer*** "what are you 5?" … I'll tell you what you are ~~~~ INSULTING!

    Shakti Dancer
    ooohhh-look at kitten showing her claws! nice! now this is what i like to see before bed!

    Tulip O
    my goodness, the poor horse…
    the poor man who thoguht it was his right to do such things. what a terrible terrible thing he did. and all abusers out there… my goodness what to do?
    but i try to remember that compassion is our goal.
    we can create a better world if we remember that we are all in this together.
    sweet dreams to all..

    Mandie J
    Compassion IS the goal … belligerence accomplishes nothing! Thank you, Tulip Ofthesunset … Sweet Dreams and Namaste

    Jennifer JH
    Why not take your energy and emotion generated by this horrific news & turn it into a tool for generating even more powerful compassion. Obviously this is not something that any of us want to see but the raw emotion can be used to fuel your compassion instead of just perpetuating the anger & hatred. Enough damage has been done by the act itself… See More… It's up to you to take what you can from something so horribly sad, learn from it, and create something positive. Thank you, Waylon.. A terribly painful yet powerful reminder for me.

    There's also a lot to be said for the personal responsibility of what you are willing to allow into your head. If you are not able to handle this sort of material, don't view it. I feel that there was ample warning.

    Simon R
    @Sarah L Stein: I'm not sure which is more glaring – your hypocrisy or your raging narcissism. Grow up.

    @elephantjournal: Thanks for the post. Rather precious how the mainstream media will feature the cruelty of an individual as "news" whilst the same thing done in the name of agriculture gets not just a blind eye, but downright endorsement.

    That said, it's just a horse. This is what people get upset about? Christ.

    Mandie J
    It's not "just a horse" … speciesism=racism=hate … it ALL starts HERE
    @ Sara L Stein … more power to you … how are you going with your barf stain … I'm having a lot of trouble getting mine out!!!

    Rhonda K S
    I think it is absolutely wonderful that you shared this on fb, waylon. one of these wonderful readers will no doubt take this information and do something useful with it that wouldn't have been done otherwise, and I thank you for that. I see mostly caring and compassionate responses from caring and compassionate people, and I'm willing to bet one… See More… See More of them will make sure that this man never owns another horse for the rest of his life. Is there anybody out there who lives nearby who could keep an eye on this guy to make sure he doesn't get another 'pet' – ever? There are now lawyers working for animal justice, too – PETA needs this guy's address along with a copy of this article perhaps???

  8. Rhonda K S
    Karki, I'd like to explain the loving and having of a pet or pets, if I may…When I was a little girl I was alone a lot. I was a little girl, so I wasn't all that intelligent yet, and animals met me on a heart level as my complete equal – they still do. I consider animals absolutely our equals, and every bit as important as humans. I share my … See Morehome, and life with as many of them as I can adequately support and have the time and money for, and I love them because they are my heart and soul's equal. Regardless of how smart I get, how many degrees I have, etc., they always remain my equal on a soul level. I also share my life with many people, including a husband, children, friends, etc., so they are not a substitute for people. I cannot save all of the animals, children, or people from the extreme abuse of this world, but I do my very best to do what little I can. Every animal or person I show compassion appreciates what little love and kindness I have to offer, and it is the primary thing that I live for.

    Elise C
    Thank you ej for sharing. As a veterinarian, I (all too often) treat victims of animal abuse and it is heartbreaking the things some of these poor creatures have endured. The only way I can deal with it is by treating my patients with the utmost love and compassion. I always hope that this time the justice system will get it right and actually … See Morepunish the abuser. It is important that people understand that those who abuse/torture animals also abuse/torture humans, we cannot ignore it because "it is only a horse." Even if you are not capable of widening your circle of compassion to include non-human animals, you should recognize the threat that animal abusers present to other human beings. That said – I did not click on the link because it would upset me too much to have to see it without being able to do anything to alleviate the suffering. But that's just me, that was my choice.

    Mandie J
    Exactly, Elise …
    (many other isms can be inserted in the equation)
    I applaud your choice not to click on the link.

    Tamara M
    I know better than to click on this image…it was the words alone….

    Larry N
    Yeah he's sorry because he got caught ,if that does not deserve jail time what does. These animals have the right to be treated with respect why does he have more horses after they already took 16 away from him .The judge needs to be put in jail for not doing the right thing

    Edward LD
    i agree with Mr. Norton

    Mandie J
    Smart thinking, Tamara … and I'm totally with your thinking as well, Larry and Edward!!!

    Marilyn E
    We need goodnews in this world to inspire us check out connie smith good news hamilton ontario canada

    Karki Meade
    Rhonda, as long as your relationship is healthy, it's a good relationship. Whether it is with a person, an animal, or even a thing or concept. Still, I don't like the idea of owning a living thing. I won't go around liberating puppies from children or anything, but I do want people who provide puppies for children to ask themselves why they're doing that and what they're really teaching.

    Jeff S
    Sick Bastard!!!
    Well, having woken up and fed my dog and brushed my teeth and coming back to this, I have to thank Sara for starting this dialogue. It's amazing to see the wealth and diversity of reactions.

    I think my fault here, which I apologize for, was in naming the post clearly so that folks didn't click on it if they didn't want to… See More—that was fine—but then many folks didn' click to read my commentary, which is about the nature of abuse, so many folks, not reading the post, thought it was, as Sara said, just shock-jock journalism. This is serious, personal, and a matter not only for forgiveness, but most important for awareness, as many above have remarked. Becoming aware, we can develop compassion—the ultimate killer of abusive tendencies in all of us.

    Mandie, you were right, my name was not on the post. I've fixed that. Fact is, if you read elephant, you know that many of the posts are by the editor, myself. That said, the voice here was personal enough, about my experience with abusive tendencies, that it should have been filed under my name. I've done so, with thanks to you.

  9. KelsiC says:

    Oof. I did come across wayyy too harsh, as I read that in retrospect. My bad for sure! I was being defensive because I too grew up in a family with a history of abuse, with some first hand experience as well… Sincere apologies!

  10. rachel says:

    I'm not a fan of the title because it pokes light at what's diagnosed as Battered Child Syndrome

  11. rachel says:

    and just to clarify i know that there is nothing "light" about the content of the article, just the title.

  12. Ticia says:

    I say PUNISH abusers – we need to be accountable and responsible for our actions. As said earlier post – turning a blind I is selfish.
    Do I hit my toddler when he hits the dog in frustration?NO but I give him the chance to apologize and a time out to understand we cant hurt someone when angry. ADults abused or not must be accountable for their abuse. Sorry about their luck if life was rough growing up – we all have a story few of us had a perfect childhood.

  13. Ticia says:

    BTW – I consider any animal a someone as much as any human – more so in some case – equal to and deserving of all the same "rights".