Pinal Co. authorities investigating possible animal abuse near R - Tucson News Now

Pinal Co. authorities investigating possible animal abuse near Red Rock

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RED ROCK, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Pinal County authorities are investigating allegations of animal abuse against a livestock owner near Red Rock.

At issue is a weakened horse that had to be put down by a licensed veterinarian. What makes this problematic are the conditions the horse endured before its death and the person who took it upon herself to do something about it.

Pictures provided by local equine rescue group "Hoofprints of the Heart" are difficult to look at.

A female horse so weak, she isn't able to stand or even lift her head for any period of time.

"No water where she could get to... she was really emaciated, dehydrated and laying out in the dry sun."

That's what Hoofprints of the Heart owner Deana Boudrieau witnessed Saturday when she visited a property in the 37,000 block of South Marylynn Lane near Missile Base Road and I-10.

At the time, she says only a 13-year-old boy was home.

When asked where his parents were, she says the boy didn't know, nor did he know how to contact them.

"At that point I went off the property and called the (Pinal Co.) Sheriff's Department," she says. "Once I got the Sheriff's Department dispatched to the residence, I called my vet."

Here's where things get tricky.

Because the horse was in such bad shape and clearly suffering, she claims, "It was dying. It was dying as we were there... it was dying."

Boudrieau says her veterinarian euthanized the animal with the consent and presence of a Pinal County Deputy.

Again, this happened without the consent of the animal's owner.

Was that even legal?

State officials are handling the situation quite diplomatically.

"The livestock is usually on private property. So there are a lot of things to be concerned about as far as trespassing."

That's Laura Oxley, spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Agriculture, the governing entity for livestock owners across the state.

Over the last two years, livestock officers from her agency have visited this particular property three times due to allegations of abuse or neglect.

Not once has the department levied a fine or sanction against the property owner.

"So from the state's point of view, the Department of Agriculture's point of view, is this family, this particular livestock owner in good standing?" Tucson News Now asked Laura Oxley.

"Yes," she said.

But when we asked about the horse that put down Saturday Oxley would only say, "That happened before we were out there...so I don't feel comfortable speaking about it."

Based on the most recent complaint to the agency, a livestock officer visited the property this week and observed two large animals, a two or three year old colt and a Jersey bull.

"There was food and water sufficient for the animals," Oxley said. "And they were in fine health."

As for the horse euthanized earlier in the week, police officers do have authority to put an animal out of its misery without the owner's consent.

In this case, the owner could say his horse was sick, but not dying.

Either way, Pinal County detectives are actively investigating allegations of abuse against the property owner.

No charges have been filed.

But we're told some of the evidence gathered is compelling.

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