Six award-winning show-quality miniature horses near Adelaide, Australia, have had their throat cuts in their stables in an attack a senior police officer described as particularly brutal.
The two colts and four fillies, all about two years old, were found dead in their stalls around 8.30am on Saturday. Three other miniatures were spared by the offenders.
A reward of $A100,000 has been offered for information leading to a conviction over the attack.
Owner Julie Jackson was in tears as she spoke of the loss of her beloved animals.
Her son, Daniel Spong, said: “It would take an extremely sick individual, I would think, to carry this out.
“I certainly looks as thought it is a targeted attack, but obviously no idea as to why, or who was behind it.”
Terry Hocking, who works with the horses, was struggling to keep his emotions in check as he described the scene.
“I went straight to the first box, with a horse I love dearly, and his throat was slashed. I went down, and just kept finding one after another.”
Jackson, whose stud is located near Clayton Bay, between Finnis and Goolwa, is the daughter of Mt Gambier businessman and trucking tycoon Allan Scott, who left an estimated $A600 million estate when he died, aged 85, in October 2008.
The two staff members who found the horses were take to hospital to be treated for shock. It is understood Ms Jackson was shield from the scene.
Superintendent Rob Williams said the offence was particularly brutal and unlike anything he had ever seen.
“Unknown offenders came on to the property, came down to the stables and slaughtered six horses,” Williams said.
He told abc.net.au: “We are really asking for the community’s assistance in this crime – a particularly vicious crime on defenceless animals.
“Significant penalties [are] involved in these types of crimes, and we are asking for the community’s help to give us the information through Crime Stoppers. Any information will be of assistance.”
The offenders face up to 10 years in jail.
The animals were understood to be worth tens of thousands of dollars each.
Miniature horses, which stand under 86cm, are shown in halter, harness and performance classes, including trail and jumping.
South Australia police, in a press statement, calling the killing of the horses a bizarre and cruel incident.
Hills Fleurieu Police are asking for anyone with information on the matter, including persons or vehicles seen in the Finniss-Clayton Road area, where the stud is located, to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.