The horse’s owner told Animal Services that she spotted a man on top of her horse. She said the man ran into the woods when he saw her coming, according to Lynn Miller, the agency’s interim manager.
“It’s very bizarre behavior and very alarming to have someone doing this and you wonder, where next and who next,” Miller said.
The California Penal Code outlines a specific, misdemeanor crime for sexually assaulting an animal, Miller said.
It is very rare that the agency gets reports of such crime, he said.
In Monday’s case, the horse’s owner said she could not initially find her horse when she went to the pasture and began calling out to her, Miller said.
The horse whinnied back and the woman followed the sound and then saw her in another area of the pasture, tied to a redwood tree, he said.
She saw the man pulling up his pants and yelled out and he took off into the woods.
It was near dusk and the woman did not get a clear look at him, he said, but reported he had a light-colored beard and was wearing tattered clothes and may have been homeless.
The horse was uninjured, Miller said.
She told the officer she had heard a similar incident happened to another horse in the area, but Miller said they had not received any other reports.
Normally, the Sheriff’s Office would field the call, but Animal Services took it because deputies were busy and the perpetrator was gone, Miller said.
Animal Services encouraged the woman to file a report with the Sheriff’s Office, he said.
The Sheriff’s Office has not gotten a report of the incident, and deputies are unaware of any similar recent cases, Sgt. Dan Campos said.
In 2003, according to Sentinel archives, a Shetland pony named Rose was taken from Coast Road Stables north of Santa Cruz and reportedly sexually assaulted. A jogger in that case had reported seeing a man sleeping beside a horse in the bushes along Shaffer Road on the morning before the pony wandered back, uninjured. The hair on the tails of several horses there had been cut as well, deputies reported at the time.