Cattle found 'dying of thirst' on area property with absentee owner

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CORSICANA, Texas (KWTX) The discovery of dead and starving cattle on a fenced-in, waterless piece of land in Navarro County has sparked an animal cruelty investigation by the sheriff's office.

(Photo by Rissa Shaw)

Along with six head of severely malnourished cattle, the bodies of at least eight head of cattle, in varying stages of decomposition, were found on a rural property on NW County Road 0020 in Corsicana, officials said.

“Anytime you go on a premises and locate a number of animals and there are more animals deceased on the property than there are alive – then you’re dealing with a critical situation," said Sheriff Elmer Tanner.

"It doesn't take a rancher to realize there's some abuse taking place here."

Although there hasn't been a necropsy, Tanner said it was clear the animals were trapped without any water for “quite some time.”

“This situation, and these animals being deceased, is the fact that they were starved from water," said Tanner.

A concerned citizen tipped off the NCSO; a deputy responded Monday night and by Tuesday morning two investigators took over the case and had a search warrant.

"It's not a good situation when you place an animal behind an enclosure, a fence, and then deprive them of food or water, the very things they need to survive," said Tanner. "You could tell the cattle were very muddy where they'd attempted to get into a water source: a stock pond that had dried up."

Tanner said there were no other water sources available.

The six surviving cattle were seized and transported to a local veterinary clinic for emergency treatment; not only for being undernourished, but also for parasites and infections, said Tanner.

Within 48 hours, their conditions had drastically improved under the vet’s care.

“I’m very optimistic that those six animals have a reasonable chance of making it," said Tanner.

His department is now concentrating on finding the "absentee owner" who is believed to live out-of-town.

"Our immediate focus was to retrieve the animals and get them to emergency care as quickly as we could, and now we focus on the task of finding out who the actual owners are," he said.

Tanner said it’s the owner’s responsibility to dispose of the carcasses on the property.

NCSO will continue investigating the felony animal cruelty case with potential charges against the owner pending.

"We’re going to be very proactive about trying to investigate these cases, look for this type of activity in our county and do what we can to protect these animals," said Tanner.

A judge will determine where the surviving cattle will be placed at a hearing in the coming days.