SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Five horses have been stabbed or shot in parts of South Carolina and North Carolina over the past month, leaving some owners working with their neighbors to sleep in shifts to make sure their animals are protected.
The attacks have happened in Spartanburg and Greenville counties in South Carolina and Polk County, North Carolina. In four cases, the horses were stabbed or slashed, with wounds so deep intestines or bones are exposed. A fifth horse was shot. Three of the horses were killed or had to be euthanized, authorities said.
Owners and police held a meeting Tuesday near Spartanburg.
"We're having families and family farmers who are actually spending nights and days taking shifts to patrol their own farms," Bryan King, who is chairman of the Board of Commissioners in nearby Rutherford County, North Carolina, told WYFF-TV.
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Investigators have called in the State Law Enforcement Division in South Carolina to help, but no arrests have been made.
"I've been doing this for 25 years, and this is the first time I've seen anything like this," Spartanburg County Environmental Enforcement Division Director James Nelson told the Herald-Journal of Spartanburg,
Nelson said owners need to keep a close eye on their animals and not panic. He said police all around the area are on the case.
"We are still at ground zero when it comes to leads," Nelson said. "I increased my staff on this, I've moved some folks over to assist in the investigation, but still at this point there's nothing."
Craig Howell's horse was attacked Nov. 4 in Spartanburg. His wife first thought the horse named Sarah had been attacked by animals.
"I knew right away it wasn't animals," Howell said. "I've seen what coyotes and dogs do to other animals - this wasn't it."
Howell noted cuts along the horse's hip and abdomen and a stab wound to the animal's chest.
"I'm at a loss. It's hard for me to believe that a person would do this. This just doesn't make sense It takes a pretty gutsy individual who is crazy to do something like that," Howell told the Spartanburg newspaper.
Investigators from several agencies met this week to compare crime scene photos and notes, Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said.
The sheriff is asking anyone to report anything strange they see on their farms and if they have a horse they think was attacked to let investigators know immediately so evidence can be saved and injuries documented.