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$5K reward: Horse named ‘Sweet Tea’ shot, killed in Buncombe County animal cruelty case

<i>WLOS</i><br/>Hunting seasons aside
WLOS
Hunting seasons aside

By Evan Sobol

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    BUNCOMBE COUNTY, North Carolina (WLOS) — An animal cruelty investigation is underway in Buncombe County after a horse was found shot and killed on a farm near Alexander, according to the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office.

Anita and Ted Mack’s farm family is now one member down.

“Sweet Tea was just one of those that came up to you and wanted to be petted and snuggle on you. Just a super sort of friendly guy,” Anita Mack said. “This shouldn’t have happened this should never have happened.”

Prominent lawyer David Aylor found dead in home, authorities say On Dec. 30, Anita said they found their 14-year-old Haflinger, Sweet Tea, dead with a bullet wound to his front quarter, between his leg and chest.

“It looks like it could have been an intentional,” said Anita. “But why why would you? To me, it defies logic. Why would anyone do that to a horse? “What could have possibly prompted someone to do something so horrible to a horse? One of the friendlies ones we have.”

The Mack’s 52-acre farm, located off Old State Highway 20, shares property lines with Sandy Mush Game Land. The nearly 3,000-acre game land is owned by the state of North Carolina with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission being the primary custodian. It is actively used by hunters, fishermen, and wildlife watchers, according to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.

Hunting seasons aside, the Macks said they’ve had issues with poachers trespassing and killing animals on their property.

“We come out here on a regular basis, check on all the fence lines and you’ll see where they will cut one or two of the sections, step over, come in and walk across the property. It’s quite common,” Ted Mack said.

According to Anita Mack, the meandering property lines can be confusing. Accidents happen, and that’s one thing, she said, but cutting barbed wire fencing is another.

“[The property lines are] very confusing, convoluted, in and out, crazy even for those of us that live here,” Anita said. “But, Sweet Tea’s body was lying within 10 feet of a no hunting, no trespassing sign – a regulation, full sized sign. We have them stationed about every 50 feet.”

In November, Anita said another of their horses was injured.

“It was a hole large enough that I could put my pinky into the hole,” she said. “It did mysteriously look like it could have been a bullet hole.”

The Macks said they, and their neighbors, have stayed silent over the years out of fear of retaliation.

“We have had the [no hunting] signs shot full of holes, and turkey feathers stuffed into the holes to taunt us,” Anita said. “We’ve had hunters who have cut our fences. In the wintertime, is when it’s the most obvious, when you can see the blood trail where they have dragged a deer back out of our pasture into the neighbor’s property, then finally get back into the game land property.”

But Sweet Tea, she said, was the final straw.

“We’ve suffered a really severe loss and we don’t understand it,” Anita said. “It’s just cruel. Sweet Tea didn’t have a mean bone in his body and for someone to have done this to him is heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking.”

In addition to justice, the Macks want peace of mind; assurance this won’t happen again.

A $5,000 reward is being offered on Sweet Tea’s behalf. The money is coming from Help Asheville Bears (HAB). The reward money is to be paid out to anyone with information leading to an arrest or charges brought against the person responsible for his death.

For HAB’s tip-line and information on the $5,000 reward, call 855-SOS-BEAR or submit a tip online here.

According to a Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, currently, they have no persons of interest nor leads.

You can submit a tip to the sheriff’s office by calling (828) 250-4503 or via the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office app, which can be downloaded in the Apple or Google Play stores.

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