Horse dragging case proves challenging for law enforcement


by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News and photojournalist DEREK RASOR

Posted on December 6, 2012 at 11:11 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 7 at 10:48 AM

AUSTIN -- A case of felony animal cruelty in Central Texas is shedding new light on a serious challenge for law enforcement in rural areas. They say tackling it takes resources and witnesses that they often don't have.

David Ackerman and Alan Schwettmann are trained to spot animal abuse. They say often times animal abuse cases don't get reported and sometimes don't get prosecuted because of lack of evidence.

"Unfortunately a lot of things slip through the cracks. We can assume what's going on, but we really need to have folks out there that can come forward who witnessed an incident so we can get sworn statements and they can testify," said Schwettmann.

Bastrop County investigators are still looking for the man accused of dragging his horse behind his truck. Neighbors along Mesa Drive in Del Valle tell KVUE it's not the first time they've complained about living conditions and proper care.

City of Austin code spells out exactly what defines animal cruelty. Laws in many rural areas aren't as specific which make them tougher to enforce.

"Whether it be food, water, shelter, just make sure they're in the right environment," said David Ackerman.

Schwettmann said animal cruelty cases can be even harder to prove if no one speaks up.

"I rely on witnesses in those types of situations," said Schwettmann.

"It's more about trying to make someone comply than it is about just throwing citations," said Ackerman.

It's an effort that takes time, manpower and money many agencies don't have to spare.

Bastrop County deputies said the accused owner of the the horse is Mariano Resendiz Villafuerte. Investigators said he does not have a Social Security number or a drivers license on file. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison.