ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) - The search is on for the culprit in an extreme case of animal cruelty.
A horse was found shot, bleeding and abandoned. Now there's a reward to find the shooter.
Authorities said this is a rare case. Not only did this horse take a bullet through the neck, she survived.
According to New Mexico Livestock Board officials, two boys were out riding four-wheelers last week south of Roswell near Hagerman when they spotted a bay mare.
It had dried blood on both sides of its neck after being shot.
"It's a very disturbing case," said Brand Inspector Eric Martinez of New Mexico Livestock Board in District Five. "It's very upsetting to see any horse or any animal being poorly treated."
Martinez is the agent who responded to the call. He said he's never seen a horse live through this kind of injury. The single bullet just missed her spine and esophagus.
The injured mare was taken to a Carlsbad vet for treatment.
"The entry wound was on the right, right in front of the withers, and was in a downward angle to the left coming out on the left side," explained Martinez.
The rancher who owns the property where the mare was found doesn't know anything about the horse. The roughly 15-year-old mare won't need surgery and is expected to recover with antibiotics.
The vet estimates she had the wound for two to three days before anyone found her and lost a lot of blood.
"To have animals used as targets and let them live through it, that is a severe case of animal cruelty," said Martinez.
Authorities believe the mare was shot with a small caliber weapon larger than a .22. Aside from her wound, Livestock Board officials believe the horse was previously cared for.
There are no brands or tattoos, but specific markings may help lead them to an owner.
"The horse had a star on her forehead; it was a pretty large star," Martinez said. "She has a sock on her back left leg."
Investigators want to find whoever is responsible for shooting the horse and hold them accountable. Animal Protection of New Mexico is offering a reward up to $3,500 to anyone with information that leads to an arrest in this case.
Investigators believe the horse was shot over the weekend of Dec. 15 near the intersection of county roads Jicarilla and Mono southeast of Hagerman.
Anyone with information can call (877) 548-6263. Callers can remain anonymous. If no one claims the horse, she will eventually go up for sale.
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