SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY (CBS13) — In the past several months, at least five dead, and in some cases, mutilated horses have been found dumped throughout the San Joaquin Valley.
San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department's rural crimes unit is working to crack the bizarre case of horse carcass dumping that has some nearby residents concerned.
The disturbing trend began in November, and since then, has spread in the eastern portion of the county near Lodi, Clements and now near Stockton.
"It's to be concerned about it for health reasons as well as it's not right what they are doing," said Mike Furtado, a neighbor.
Deputies believe someone is offloading dead horses on rural roads, leaving behind few clues.
In January, a horse was dumped on private property near Atkins Road outside of Lodi. Its legs were hog-tied to a fence and its lips were removed -- possibly cut out -- to get rid of the markings that could identify the horse's owner.
It's not clear if the crimes are connected, but deputies want people to know it's a misdemeanor to dump livestock carcasses.
"It might make them think twice before doing that," said Ron Matthews, a concerned neighbor.
South County Crimestoppers is offering a reward to help find who's behind the crimes.
"They'll get them sooner or later," Furtado said.
Authorities urge people to properly dispose of livestock remains. There are local companies that offer the service.
Some neighbors suspect the people responsible are trying to avoid disposal fees.
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