Investigators are noticing an increase in so-called rescues lying to get animals-and then selling them for a quick profit.
Not only do the original owners get duped, but in some cases the horses suffer.
There are a number of reputable horse sanctuaries and horse dealers in Marana but investigators say there's a type of person you don't want to do business with. They promise to give you animal a new home but that's not what happens.
Jessica Gray runs the Wild Hearts Horse Rescue. She says there's no shortage of people trying to give up animals that are ill or too expensive to feed.
"If someone's asking for horses on craigslist, then, you know, something's up."
Pima County Sheriff's Detective Robin Crehan agrees something is up
"They're in it to get the horse for nothing and sell the horse for a profit."
Crehan says not all Craigslist solicitations are a suspect but some horse traders are online asking for unwanted horses.
They assure the former owners their horses will live happily ever after with great care, but then turn around and sell them.
"What happens to the horse in the meantime is the subject we're discussing here," said Crehan. "They don't feed and care for the horse properly, its condition goes down sometimes it develops medical problems, it can die."
Crehan is seeing an increase in suspicious transactions, but she says the difference between a shady deal and an outright crime depends on the agreement between owner and rescue.
"Two people pull up one with a horse trailer empty and the other with a horse in it, and they just make the exchange, it's very informal," said Crehan.
Crehan says most credible sanctuaries will keep proper vet records and when they adopt out, they regularly check the horse's new home.
"With as many unwanted equines as there are in Arizona, there shouldn't be any money in it," said Grey.
Grey says it's important to check a sanctuary or horse dealer's background to make sure they are legit and demand to see all veterinary records.
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