Au­thor­i­ties seek horse-drag­ging sus­pect

Man tied horse to truck, dragged it, then kicked it in neck, wit­ness says.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Ri­cardo Gán­dara rgan­dara@states­ ralph barrera / amer­i­canS­tates­man contributed photo Con­tact Ri­cardo Gán­dara at 445-3632.

Bas­trop County au­thor­i­ties are look­ing for a man who they be­lieve tied a horse to the back of his truck, drove away and dragged it for more than 100 yards when the an­i­mal couldn’t keep up. The horse sur­vived and is re­cov­er­ing at a res­cue ranch for horses near Seguin.

Ac­cord­ing to an ar­rest af­fi­davit, a wit­ness told a Bas­trop County of­fi­cer that on Nov. 10, he saw Mar­i­ano Re­sendiz Vil­la­fuerte tie the horse to the re­ceiver hitch of his truck and drive away at a high rate of speed on Mesa Drive in Del Valle, caus­ing the horse to fall.

The wit­ness told the of­fi­cer that Vil­la­fuerte fi­nally stopped the truck, got out and be­gan kick­ing the horse in the neck un­til it stood up.

Deputy Sher­iff Conor Brown ini­tially re­sponded to the call, said Sissy Jones, a spokes­woman for the sher­iff’s de­part­ment. “He talked to the sus­pect but Deputy Brown was busy ad­dress­ing the health of the horse when the sus­pect walked away into the night and couldn’t be found,” said Jones.

The next day, a war­rant was is­sued for Vil­la­fuerte’s ar­rest charg­ing him with misdemeanor cru­elty to an­i­mal. The charge was in­creased on Wed­nes­day to cru- elty to live­stock by trip­ping, a state felony, due to the horse be­ing dragged while he was on the ground, Jones said.

Now, the 6-year-old male paint horse is re­cov­er­ing and do­ing well at Meadow Haven Horse Res­cue in Nixon, about 20 miles south of Seguin in Gon­za­lez County. Drag­ster, as the horse is af­fec­tion­ately called by work­ers at the res­cue, lost skin and has a hole in one of his shoul­ders, said Darla Cherry, who runs the horse res­cue.

“When I ini­tially got him on Mon­day of this week, my re­sponse was ‘wow, oh my God. How could any­one do this to an an­i­mal?’ I can­not imag­ine what he looked like when this first hap­pened to him,” said Cherry.

The horse also has a bump on his knee that makes him “un­sound,” which means he can’t be rid­den, Cherry said. “Other than that, he’s great. He’s not afraid of peo­ple.”

Cherry said the horse was ini­tially treated by a vet­eri­nar­ian, then the sher­iff ’s of­fice called to see if she’d take him. When she posted graphic pho­tos of Drag­ster’s in­juries on her Face­book page, horse lovers ral­lied. Some sent do­na­tions for his care through her web­site, www.mead owhaven­horseres­cue. com.

“A lot of peo­ple were an­gry and many ques­tioned whether law en­force­ment was do­ing enough to catch this guy,” she said.

Jones said Vil­la­fuerte was last seen driv­ing a white 2002 Ford F150 with li­cense plate BU13787. Some peo­ple who fol­low Cherry on Face­book this week posted a photo of a man stand­ing be­hind a truck bear­ing that li­cense plate.

Drag­ster will take about six months to re­cover. If his knee heals, he can be used for plea­sure rid­ing, Cherry said, and she will try to find him per­ma­nent home.

Darla Cherry of Meadow Haven Horse Res­cue in Nixon says Drag­ster will take six months to re­cover.

Charles At­tal re­moved trees along his fence in April.

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