HICKMAN, Neb. (AP) - This one-horse town is now a no-horse town.
An elderly horse that drew worldwide attention for his owner's refusal to comply with an ordinance barring livestock inside city limits has been moved to a new pasture.
The 32-year-old Morgan-quarter horse crossbreed named Peter Rabbit was taken in Thursday by Anderson Equine Services of Firth, Neb. His new home is about four miles south of where he lived since his birth in the spring of 1976.
The move allows the horse's owner, 77-year-old Harley Scott, to avoid a Monday hearing in Lancaster County Court.
The Hickman city attorney filed a misdemeanor charge against Scott for harboring the horse in the town of 1,084 near the state capital of Lincoln.
The battle between the Scott family and the Hickman city council began in August. News of the brouhaha struck a chord with people around the world. The Hickman city office had to set up a separate e-mail account to handle a flood of correspondence, mostly from people who ridiculed leaders for picking on the old horse.
Jack Scott, who owns the pasture where his dad's horse grazed, said the horse was moved because it was uncertain whether the family could win in court.
Scott and two others helped new caretaker Kelly Anderson load Peter Rabbit into a van. The job took almost an hour because the horse was skittish, not wanting to get in.
The saga has left the family bitter, Scott said.
"I would say it's not a very good mood. We're very disappointed," he said. "We all grew up here and have been a big part of the community all our lives. We've done a lot of good things for Hickman."
Once a sleepy farm town, Hickman has become a bedroom community for Lincoln and is one of the fastest-growing cities in Nebraska.
With houses having sprung up around the Scotts' pasture, Mayor Jim Hrouda and the city council decided in August to enforce the livestock ban that has been on the books for years. Harley Scott was served an eviction notice that ordered the animal off the land by Sept. 15. He was ticketed the next day.
The ordinance came to be in the 1980s, but the Scotts believed Peter Rabbit should have been "grandfathered" because he had lived there since the '70s.
Harley Scott faced up to a $100 fine for every day the horse remained. But Hickman city attorney Kelly Hoffschneider charged Scott with only one count, for Oct. 1. Hoffschneider did not return a message left at his office.
Though Peter Rabbit is in good health for a horse his age, Harley Scott was concerned the horse wouldn't fare well in unfamiliar surroundings. Horses have a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years.
Jack Scott's land was annexed in 2006, but he said no one said anything to him at the time about having to give up the horse.
"This isn't good for my dad or good for the horse," Scott said. "He's watched that horse out his window for a long time. I kind of hate to see him go."
On the Net:
City of Hickman: http://www.hickman.ne.gov
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)