Chicago animal control officials said Monday that a horse found dead outside a home in Englewood showed no signs of mistreatment, and that reports about a dog eating the animal were unfounded.
The horse’s owner, Leo Beltran, was stunned by previous reports of neglect. He said his horse, named Casper, was always cared for and died of natural causes.
When 28-year-old Casper fell ill, Beltran decided to move the horse from a ranch in Mendota, Illinois, to a lot next to his home in order to keep a closer eye on the animal.
Chicago Animal Care and Control came to Beltran’s house after the horse died and saw no signs of mistreatment or malnourishment.
“The owner reported that the deceased horse had been to the veterinarian recently and provided records for that visit,” said Jenny Schlueter, assistant to the director of the department. “A remaining horse was moved to a farm this morning.
“It is legal to keep a horse in the city of Chicago as long as the animals are licensed and receive proper care,” she added.
The statement is at odds with one from Chicago police earlier in the day that said at least two calls came in Saturday afternoon reporting the animals did not appear to be in good condition outside the home in the 1000 block of West 61st Street.
“Call stated that the horses were not looking good, possibly deceased,” the statement read. “Another call came through at 5:09 p.m. stating that a dog was lying next to a dead horse. ... A pit bull had gotten into the yard and was eating the horse.”
But animal control said that report was not true, and that a dog found on the premises was “in good health and is friendly.”
The other horse “is in relatively good condition except for an old leg wound that does not affect its mobility,” the agency added in its statement.
Animal control added that a small barn on the property “was clean and equipped with hay and water, and the animals have access to the barn at all times.”
The owner was cited for failure to provide updated vaccine records for the surviving horse. “The owner said he has those records at his other home and will be emailing them to the department,” the agency said.
In 2019, animal control issued six citations — four for one horse and two for the dog — for failure to have a license or proof of up-to-date vaccines, as well as failure to set up a screen frame to help address issues with fly bites during the summer. “The issues had since been corrected,” the agency said.
Sabrina Acoff, who used to live in the neighborhood, was shocked to learn one of the horses died. “They looked fine last week, there were two of them,” she said. “They were just there last week!”
Acoff’s family lived one block from the house for many years, and she said they never had issues with the animals. She said her daughter and her friends often went to the house to look at the horses.
Acoff said she’s also seen llamas, donkeys and chickens there. On Monday morning, no animals remained except for a dog sitting on the porch.
Before animal control released its statement, Ald. Stephanie Coleman, 16th, and Ald. Raymond Lopez, 15th, said the incident illustrates the need for legislation they are backing restricting animal ownership in the city.
An ordinance introduced last fall would ban roosters from residential areas in Chicago and allow a household to keep no more than six hens and two livestock animals, defined as four-legged farm creatures such as pigs, sheep and goats.
A $25 annual livestock permit from the city’s Health Department would be required of each household keeping farm animals, and only single-family homes and two-flats would be eligible. Applicants would have to inform all neighbors within 500 feet of their plans, and a permit would be rejected if a majority objects.
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