BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Texas deputies responded to a viral Facebook post about a horse found “dying slowly” on a property behind a Lowe’s home improvement store.
The Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office says the report of neglected horses came to them on Sunday.
A responding livestock deputy found all of the livestock had adequate food and water, as well as access to natural grasses and other food on the property, the Monday evening post on the sheriff’s office’s Facebook page said.
Tondra Jade Daily’s Sunday Facebook post with several photos of a white horse that appears emaciated have been shared more than 13,000 times. She said she climbed into the pasture and gave the horse a bowl of water and called the sheriff’s office.
“The owner eventually came out with his wife and kicked me off his property. I begged him to put the suffering creature out of his misery but he insisted none of it was my business and told me to get the hell on,” she wrote.
BCSO says the entire investigation was transferred to them Monday, including a trespassing complaint by the landowner against those who allegedly went onto his property without permission.
The sheriff’s office said there have been other reports of animal cruelty at the property, but none have resulted in charges or convictions.
“The rancher who owns this property is formerly a rodeo stock contractor,” the sheriff’s office post said, explaining that many of the animals are former rodeo animals that range in age from newborns to over 30 years old.
“The land owner explained that he keeps the animals out of respect for them, to let them live out their life in a peaceful, stress-free manner,” BCSO said. “According to the land owner, that means that he allows them to live to a ripe old age, and to die naturally.”
The sheriff’s office is having two livestock investigators look into the report and have sought advice from area veterinarians, noting that some do not want to be involved out of fear of retaliation on social media.
BCSO said the district attorney has been consulted on all aspects of this case and will develop the case as the investigation moves forward.
“While the photographs are disturbing, we urge everyone to withhold judgement [sic] until all of the evidence can be examined,” the sheriff’s office said. “Social media posts calling for ‘lightning to strike’ the rancher or for him to get shot only slows our investigation as the threats are evaluated to determine if the threats are credible or not.”
The sheriff’s office noted that trespassing could result in imprisonment up to 6 months. “We appreciate the concerns that have been generated, but we must proceed in a legal, respectful, and safe manner.”