2 horses die; Victoria sheriff investigates possible animal cruelty

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Sept. 6, 2013 at 4:06 a.m.
Updated Sept. 7, 2013 at 4:07 a.m.

The death of two horses in rural Victoria County is being investigated as possible animal cruelty.

Over the past couple of months, Victoria County Sheriff's Office deputies responded several times to the 400 block of Raab Road to investigate the condition of the horses.

On Wednesday when they arrived, they found one horse dead.

Victoria City/County Animal Control took custody of another horse, which later died, Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor said Friday.

"Then, we were advised that for some reason, one horse was not accounted for, so they may have moved it off the premises," he said.

Loretta Hampton, who owns the 1-acre property where the horses were found, said she let someone borrow her pasture because "they were in a fix."

She declined to talk further about the case.

Sheriff's office Sgt. Thomas Eisman would not release the name of the horses' owner because of the ongoing investigation. No charges have been filed, and no one has been arrested.

"Each time the deputies went out there, they noted the horses appeared to be in ill health," he said. "They noted that before they left, or in some cases, before they arrived, food or water were either there or being distributed to the animals."

Sheriff's office Investigator Jason Jaroszewski is overseeing the case.

Nancy Schuetz, 28, whose parents live nearby, said the county waited too long to take action. She said her parents began complaining about the horses' deteriorating health in June.

Several times, her family watered them.

"They were eating the bark off of the trees," Schuetz said, noting there was not much grass for grazing. "They were biting each other trying to get to the water because they were so dehydrated."

The Crossroads area needs a large animal rescue organization when this type of situation arises, she said.

"Not enough in this area is done for horses and things like that that are starving," she said. "If you can't afford to feed or water them, you need to sell them or find someone who can (feed and water them)."

Depending on the circumstances, animal cruelty charges can range anywhere from a class A misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, Eisman said.



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