21 horses, dog found dead on North Carolina property sparking investigation

An animal cruelty investigation was underway in North Carolina after 21 horses and a dog reportedly were found dead on an abandoned property.

The animals were discovered in the southern part of Wake County, outside Raleigh, WTVD reported on Friday.

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Gwen Roberts, who operates a therapeutic riding center nearby, said a neighbor called her after suspecting the animals could be in trouble.

"When I walked back there and went around the corner, it was just horrifying ... they were all dead," Roberts said of the animals. "It was just bad. It was really bad. They didn't have to die. All they had to do is ask for help. It's really sad."

One dog on the property was found alive, stuck inside the same cage as the deceased dog, the Wake County Sheriff's Office told the news station.

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"As an animal owner myself, it is quite disturbing for any animal to have to suffer, like these animals, we assume, did," sheriff's office spokesman Eric Curry said.

Investigators said they were working to locate a "person of interest." Curry said necropsies were scheduled for several horses on Saturday to determine why they died.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.