The custody of a Shetland pony injured when allegedly dragged behind a pickup truck in Texas has been awarded to the Houston SPCA.
The charity confirmed that it had been granted custody at the conclusion of a court hearing today.
“The owner was divested of ownership after the judge determined the animal was cruelly treated,” the charity reported.
“The Houston SPCA continues to treat the pony’s wounds as he receives comfort and care at the shelter.”
A 68-year-old man who is alleged to have dragged the pony along the road behind his pickup truck in Liberty County faces an animal cruelty charge.
The Liberty County Sheriff’s Department had responded to a 911 call around 10.15am last Wednesday over the incident that led to the arrest of Francisco Castillo Cruz.
The member of the public said he saw a man dragging a small black-and-white Shetland pony behind his red pickup truck.
The witness reported that each time the pony stumbled and fell on the road surface, the owner would get out and beat the animal across the head with a belt and buckle. He would then get back in his truck and drag the horse again, the witness reported.
Deputies Gorden Bean and Robert Dunn, along with Sergeant James Sprayberry, drove to the scene and found Cruz, said to be the owner of the five-year-old male pony, at his home just outside Dayton, Texas.
Bean asked to see the horse and found that nearly all the hair and skin on the pony’s left side had been dragged off by the rough road surface.
There was also physical damage to the pony’s hooves and its left eye had severe damage from evidently being struck with the buckle of the belt.
Bean said there was a possibility the pony may lose the left eye due to the injury.
The only reason Cruz gave deputies for abusing the pony was the fact that he was “mad” because the horse managed to get out of his stall and wander off his property.
A seizure warrant was obtained from Justice of the Peace Berry Graves by Sergeant Sprayberry and the pony was turned over to a Houston SPCA unit to be taken to its facility for veterinary care, pending the court hearing on the custody question.
Cruz faces a charge of cruelty to a livestock animal, a state jail felony.