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Horse starved, perishes

Madera County Sheriff’s Department

Axel Herrera-Martinez, 20, of Madera was arrested Sunday on charges of felony animal cruelty after investigators found him to be the owner of an emaciated horse that collapsed in a patch of weeds in the 1000 block of Avenue 14, near Firebaugh.


Owner faces animal cruelty charges

A 20-year-old Madera man was arrested on charges of felony animal cruelty, for allegedly allowing a horse to collapse and starve to death in the 1000 block of Avenue 14 in western Madera County.

Axel Herrera-Martinez was arrested Sunday by deputies from the Madera County Sheriff’s Office after determining he was the owner of the animal. The emaciated horse had initially been seen lying near a dirt road in tall weeds by a passing Fish and Game warden, who thought the animal was dead due to is fly covered and skeletal condition.

The horse was near death but still struggling to stay alive when found. The animal shocked deputies as it raised its head and looked around at them and others who approached to evaluate the situation and tried to help it.

Authorities described the condition of the animal as horrific.

“The frame of the horse, it’s hips, legs, ribs and spine were visible and protruding due to neglect and starvation, with flies crawling in every orifice including it’s nose and mouth. The horse had labored breathing and it was looking up and around out of desperation,” said one officer.

It was not known how long the horse had been down in the heat but it was now too weak and unable to move or stand for too long a time, according to an Animal Control officer, so the decision was made to humanely end the suffering of the animal.

Other animals on the property were found to be OK, but the conditions inside some of the pens were questionable, they said.

Madera County Animal Services director Kirsten Gross said it would have taken months for the horse to have been malnourished enough to reach that awful emaciated condition, and it would have suffered terribly with the recent triple digit heat and the hoards of biting flies, as it fought and struggled to survive, before collapsing.

Gross recommended the following check list of the top 11 signs of animal cruelty to watch for and asked the public to beware of the conditions of animals in their own care or in their neighborhoods.

“Make sure your own animals have plenty of fresh water and shade. Provide small, shallow pools or tubs of water. Wet the concrete or ground for them to lie in. Or bring them inside if you can. I would also suggest that if anyone witnesses, or is advised of potential animal cruelty issues, that they contact their local law enforcement immediately. Obviously, in this heat, animals can be compromised quickly, so please don’t hesitate! Be alert and save an animal’s life by making a phone call,” Gross said.

The investigation into the incident is continuing.


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