SYRACUSE, Utah – The shooting deaths of four thoroughbred horses in Utah are prompting outrage and a $5,000 reward for the prosecution of those responsible.
Richard Sanders of Sunset said he returned home from a trip Tuesday to learn the horses were killed in their corral in nearby Syracuse, 25 miles north of Salt Lake City. The corral is in a remote location at the end of a road.
The horses he loved and cared for over the last decade were shot sometime between July 12 and Tuesday night, he said. They were the only horses he owned.
"Three of them were laying side by side," Sanders told the Standard-Examiner of Ogden. "The oldest mare, she had jumped into the feed barrel trying to get away, and they shot her in the back."
"I hope when they catch these people, I'm the first one to get at them," he added.
Killed were 10- and 8-year-old mares, a 2-year-old filly and a 1-year-old stud.
The Humane Society of Utah, which is offering the reward, is urging those with information about the shootings to contact the Davis County Sheriff's Office.
"This appears to be a deliberate and cruel act," said Gene Baierschmidt, executive director of the organization. "This kind of callous crime cannot go unchallenged."
Elsewhere in Utah, authorities have launched a criminal investigation into the deaths of at least nine horses in a private field in Magna, just west of Salt Lake City. Police said they believe the horses found Friday died of dehydration.
Mike Reburg, director of Salt Lake County Animal Services, said misdemeanor or felony charges could be filed depending on what investigators learn.
"It's really preliminary in terms of what the cause is and who may be at fault," he told the Deseret News. "It's horrific what happened here."
A water container was found in the pasture, but it was empty, Unified police Detective Ken Hansen said. "There doesn't appear to be any water here for them, so our first inclination is that it's a lack-of-water problem," he said.
The horses' owner was not immediately identified.