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Mar 20, 2014 10:29 PM by Dave Fields

Animal Control pursues charges against man who allegedly dragged horse to its death

After a gruesome ordeal of animal cruelty that killed one horse by reportedly dragging it into a canal, St. Landry Parish Animal Control (SLPAC) officers spent Thursday assessing three more horses owned by the alleged perpetrator of the crime.

A warrant has been secured for the owner of the horses on a charge of aggravated cruelty to an animal. One of his horses is deceased and the other three show signs of abuse and/or neglect, said SLPAC officials.

"He was the person witnessed driving the truck dragging the horse," said Patricia Street, the SLPAC directorOn Wednesday afternoon, the man was questioned, but not taken into custody.

Thursday morning, animal control officers assessed three other horses also belonging to the deceased horse's owner. SLPAC officers then were able to secure the warrant for the man's arrest. SLPSO deputies are expected to release the man's name following his arrest.

The series of incidents on Wednesday began when the owner of the horse found in the canal allegedly called SLPAC at approximately 1 p.m., requesting that SLPAC officers come to his property to "shoot his horses," the director said.

Street said she told the horse's owner that SLPAC does not do that sort of thing, to which the horse's owner allegedly persisted in his unusual requests.

"I bought this horse with 20 bucks two weeks ago and the horse is down," Street said the man asked her. Street said she asked the man to clarify whether or not "down" meant that the horse was dead.

The man, according to Street, initially told her that the horse was "down and alive," to which Street told the man, she said, to "call a vet."

According to Street, the man then told her, "She's dead."

Street also said that she received a call from a Public Works employee, who told her that a man had approached her to "shoot his horses," saying that Animal Control told him to do it. Calls reportedly were made to the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office (SLPSO) about the same time.

Street also told KATC that the man also mistook a Public Works truck for a SLPAC vehicle and told the Public Works employee driving the vehicle," I thought you were animal control." At that time, the horse's owner was witnessed to have had the animal tethered with a rope to the Chevy truck he was driving.

This second public works employee also reportedly heard horse's owner to say, "No. I don't own that horse. I sold that horse. I didn't drag the horse. I paid someone to get rid of the horse."

It was at this time that the second Public Works employee heard the passenger in the horse's owner's truck to chastize the horse's owner.

"I told you we should've just shot the damned horse and threw it in the canal," the passenger allegedly told the horse's owner, according to Street. Street said she then received another call from the horse's owner and that she recognized the man's voice because of distinct characteristics in the way he spoke. She said the man this time asked SLPAC to remove the horse from the road, but that he couldn't seem to make up his mind whether or not the horse was dead or alive. Street said she inquired how the horse made it onto the road if the animal was dead, the horse's owner provided yet another convoluted explanation.

"I thought she was dead, too, but she got up and ran through the fence and now she's dead in the road," he allegedly told Street. "I'm pissed and I'm so frustrated. I'm just going to bury the horse."

Street said she asked the man for his location, but he said," I don't know the name of the road." As Street prepared to leave to find the scene, another animal control officer entered the office with reported complaint of a horse on Canal Rd. Street and other animal control officers arrived at Canal Rd. and observed the deceased horse. The horse's owner, Street said, returned to the scene at 2:01p.m.

Street said that, based on eyewitness accounts, it was clear to her that the man allegedly had committed aggravated cruelty to the now deceased horse. To be guilty of aggravated cruelty, the law applies to "any person who intentionally, with criminal negligence, tortures, maims, mutilates any living animal, whether belonging to himself or another." Aggravated cruelty also includes "any act of omission which causes or permits unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain, suffering, or death to any animal."

According to the SLPAC assessment, the owner's other three animals each are suffering from various ailments. The man's 20-year-old black horse suffered a bowed tendon, which is a pressure injury, and also swelling in its eyes and legs, indicated an SLPAC employee in the facility's livestock division. That horse also bore the marks of rope burn on one of its back legs.

The man's six-year old red horse endured an extremely painful back-leg stifle, also a pressure injury, reported the same employee. The red horse also had a "saddle scar" that had been "rubbed raw", she said, causing its red hair to grow back white in that spot.

The same employee advised that the third 10-year-old black-and-white horse appeared to be "terrified of people" and especially "scared of sudden movement." This third horse also suffered from a condition called "mud rot" which, she said, occurs when animal remains "in a muddy stall or in a muddy pasture for too long."

Street confirmed that an assessment of the man's other three horses had been completed and said that a decision on additional charges for the man would be made later. It was not known, Street said, if charges would be pursued against the passenger in the man's truck.



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