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Whit Johnson Reporting Authorities in Washington County are investigating a gruesome case of animal cruelty: a horse shot nearly 50 times and left to die a slow, painful death.
The owner of the horse is understandably very upset.
At this time there are no suspects. The Humane Society will conduct its own investigation, as well as the Washington County Sheriff's office, which says it hasn't seen an animal cruelty case this violent in at least a decade.
Clark Ence, whose family owned the horse, said, "Blood was bubbling out of the wounds, so you could see definitely that it had been shot."
It's a shocking case of animal cruelty. Authorities say sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning someone snuck on to the Ence family property in Ivins, UT.
"Hard to say whether it was a rifle or a handgun," Ence said.
They opened fire on an old race horse named Yes I Might. It suffered from as many as 50 bullets wounds to the back and stomach.
"I looked over and he was dead, and blood was running out of his nostrils and his mouth," Ence said.
Yes I Might belonged to Clark Ence's father. Clark made the horrifying discovery Sunday night and believes the horse must have suffered for some time before it eventually died.
Gene Baierschmidt, director of the Humane Society of Utah, said, "We're outraged that someone can do this to an animal. And this is a clear case of animal torture, of deliberate torture of an animal."
The Humane Society of Utah says it has seen cases of people shooting farm animals before but rarely to this extreme.
Baierschmidt says, "We've been saying for a long time there's also a direct connection between animal cruelty and violence towards people."
Right now the only evidence authorities have to go on is foot prints that were found at the scene. There are no bullet casings, no witnesses and so far, no answers.
The Humane Society says this is just another example of why there needs to be tougher laws against animal cruelty.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office is looking for anyone with information, and the Ence family is even offering a $200 reward.
Animal cruelty accusations have been making the headlines the past several months.
Prosecutors have filed animal abuse charges against two men in Utah County. Home video shot by a neighbor shows one man dragging a bull behind his van. The animal resists at first then collapses.
The property owner and an employee face fines and jail time.
In August the Utah legislature agreed to consider an animal abuse bill. "Henry's Law", named for a one-eyed Chihuahua who survived abuse, imposes a mandatory minimum sentence on someone convicted of animal abuse for the first time. A second offense would be a felony.
Prosecutors have also filed charges against a West Valley man accused of shooting his neighbor's dog. Gary Griffiths faces aggravated assault, animal cruelty and discharge of a firearm within city limits.
Witnesses say the toy-size Pomeranian named "Ozzie" wandered into Griffiths yard. Ozzie's owner says Griffiths shot the dog with a 22-caliber rifle then threatened him.
Doctors, perfomed multiple surgeries on Ozzie, but they had to euthanize him.