Mystery Mutilation Of Pony Investigated

(from The Star Tribune) - A palomino pony found dead and mutilated outside its owners' Todd County home wasn't killed in a hunting accident, according to a veterinarian who exhumed the animal Wednesday afternoon.

"It clearly wasn't a hunting accident," said Dr. Charles Moberg. "There was no evidence of trauma caused by a bullet."

On Tuesday, Todd County Sheriff's investigators had called the death a shooting accident, speculating that cuts on the pony's face were the result of the hunter trying to recover his bullet and avoid prosecution.

By Wednesday evening, however, investigators were back at square one.

"We eliminated the obvious first and now we can go on from here," said Todd County Chief Deputy Bryan Tebben.

Eleven-year-old Katie Symalla found her animal, Savannah, dead on the family's Long Prairie property on Saturday, the opening day of the firearms deer-hunting season.

The pony was the same color as a deer and the family's property is near state hunting land, said Tebben. A hunting mishap seemed to be the most likely explanation.

But the family doubted Savannah had been shot by hunters and arranged for Moberg to examine the animal with representatives of the Sheriff's Office present.

It appears someone used a sharp instrument to remove all the soft tissue on the left side of the head, including the lip, nostril and ear flap, Moberg said. There also was very little blood in the pony.

"Right now I'm left with more questions than answers," Moberg said. "I don't want to throw out conjecture but I can say that it was a heinous act ... and cruel. Hopefully the horse didn't suffer."

Investigators also will contact other agencies to determine if there have been similar cases.

"We don't know what to think," Tebben said. "There's no explanation as to what happened. ... I was hoping for a logical explanation.


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