AGUILA, Ariz. – Maricopa County sheriff's detectives seized four horses from a home in Aguila and arrested the owner on animal cruelty charges.
Jason Valenzuela, 27, was booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail on seven counts of animal cruelty.
Animal crimes detectives served a search warrant at Valenzuela's home on Tuesday. They determined that four horses had been neglected and were in dire need of food and medical attention, according to Lt. Brandon Jones with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
Three of the horses had dental issues where their teeth had curled, which did not allow them to eat, causing starvation. Detectives noted additional medical issues that were not taken care of by Valenzuela.
The investigation began after the sheriff's office received a tip in August. At that time, detectives visited Valenzuela's property and discovered the horses were in fair condition. They advised Valenzuela on how to properly care for the horses and continued to check on the animals through the end of the year, noting improvements.
A sheriff's deputy visited the property on Jan. 31 to check on the horses and noted that they were worse off than before, according to Jones. The deputy notified the sheriff's animal crimes detectives.
Once medically cleared, the horses will be brought to Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jail for abused and neglected animals and will be cared for by Tent City inmates.
Aguila is located about 25 miles west of Wickenburg.