Parker County authorities have arrested the owner of a miniature Shetland pony on an animal cruelty warrant after saying the man did not properly contain his pony, leaving it vulnerable to a vicious mauling by dogs.
Animal control officers called to the 100 block of Arvel Drive in Azle found the pony wandering the morning of Feb. 3 along the roadway with severe injuries from an apparent dog attack.
“The Shetland had no ears and the facial muscles had been ripped off of its face,” said Sheriff Larry Fowler in a news release sent to the media Feb. 4. “It’s a senseless tragedy that could have been 100-percent avoidable had the horse’s owner simply followed the law and kept it properly contained.”
Juan Gabriel Mesta, 40, of Azle was arrested Feb. 3, accused of cruelty to livestock animals. He remained in the Parker County Jail at press time with bail set at $2,500, jail records show.
The pony underwent laser surgery Feb. 3 to remove the damaged and diseased tissue from its face and is expected to survive.
The veterinarian who performed the surgery, Dr. Craig Sweatt, said the pony’s condition is poor and that staff are giving it a “guarded prognosis.”
“He has a good appetite, but it’s going to take some time,”Sweatt said, according to the news release. “He is still pretty sore. It’s remarkable how a horse can endure such a tragic mauling and still be as docile as he is. He craves love and meticulous medical attention, and that’s exactly what we’re giving him.”
According to the news release, Mesta told deputies that the pony was uninjured when he checked on him the previous day.
Fowler said Wednesday afternoon that investigators do not believe Mesta is being truthful about when he last saw the pony. Based on signs of infection, investigators suspect the attack could have occurred up to 24 hours before the animal was found.
Mesta told deputies that he typically tied the pony up for grazing in various locations of his property because he lacked adequate fencing.
The location where the pony had reportedly been tied had no water source, the release states. Mesta told deputies he watered the pony every other day.
Deputies found a “gruesome scene” where they believe the attack took place, “leaving tracks, horse hair and blood in the area, including in trees,” the release states.
Donations for the pony’s treatment and care may be made out to Mobile Veterinarian Services at P.O. Box 523, Milsap, 76066. Donations should be marked “Shetland”, the release states.
Anyone with information about the dogs’ owners are asked to call the Parker County Sheriff’s Office at 817-594-8845.
Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655