Dozens report possible livestock abuse at rodeo animal rescue property


BASTROP COUNTY (KXAN) —  Dozens of viewers reached out to KXAN Sunday regarding what they call a severe case of animal cruelty in Bastrop County.

KXAN received numerous reports, many of which stemmed from a particular social media post about a sick and malnourished horse that appeared to be on the brink of death. The person posting on Facebook Sunday said she climbed into the pasture and gave the horse a bowl of water, but the owner of the property chased her off. She also claims that she returned later to find that the horse had stopped breathing.

The horse was seen in a fenced pasture off Highway 969 behind a Lowes hardware store. A dispatcher for the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office told KXAN Sunday that they had received several calls about the well-being of the horses in the pasture. 

Bastrop County Sheriff Maurice Cook told KXAN the owner of the property runs a rodeo animal rescue which has existed for some time. Cook said while his agency had received complaints about how animals on the property were being treated before, this was the first complaint they’d received in the more than a year in which he’s served as sheriff. 

“It’s something we don’t take lightly,” Cook said. He said his investigators checked on the property Sunday and they will go over their findings later this week. 

On Saturday afternoon, Bastrop resident Cheri Rey was driving past the property and stopped out of concern for the same horse. 

“I saw something white laying there and as I passed it I realized what it was and I thought it was dead,” Rey said. She made a noise at the horse and realized it was alive, so she called Bastrop police and waited until they arrived. The police told her they were in touch with the property owner about her concerns. 

“But whether it was an old horse or he was just sick, he had been there for a while and couldn’t move,” Rey said. “I don’t know if he was injured and couldn’t get up, he attempted to several times, [he had] no muscle structure to get up.” 

The next day Rey saw the social media post with close-up photos of the horse. 

The sheriff explained that some rescued horses die on the property of natural causes. However, Rey, who considers herself a “horse person,” said she doesn’t think that is what happened here.

“The horse was beyond the point of just living out its life. It was malnutrition, malnourished,” she said. 

Rey hopes that the sheriff’s office investigates this thoroughly, particularly because there had been previous complaints about this property. She acknowledges that deputies can’t be everywhere in the county at once, but feels this is an issue they should prioritize. 

“I just hope they look at it and really look seriously at some of these forgotten places,” Rey said referring to the ranches and pastures in more rural parts of the county. 

If the sheriff’s office does find evidence of animal abuse, the case will go to the district attorney’s office. 

KXAN went by to talk with the property owner for this story but found a locked gate and a no-trespassing sign there. 

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