Havasupai man accused of abusing horse

Posted at 7:20 PM, Apr 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-15 22:20:43-04

Federal authorities have charged a member of the Havasupai Tribe with animal abuse of horses.

An investigation involving the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Arizona Department of Agriculture and Federal Bureau of Investigation looked into claims of mistreatment among horses held in a corral near Supai.

Agents observed a handful of horses with "[N]o visible food...and no apparent vegetation for the horses to eat," according to court documents. One horse "appeared to be thin, malnourished and it had had numerous visible open sores and/or wounds."

The horses at the center of the case are used on trails that take people between Hualapi Hilltop and Havasu Falls, a popular tourist destination.

Law enforcement said the horses' caretaker, Leland Joe, admitted the animals had been in a similar condition for at least the previous nine months.

Lt. Scott Small, with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, said in the probable cause statement he has "never observed any animals in Supai that have shown as many signs of both malnourishment and abuse."

Joe has been charged with four counts of animal cruelty in connection with the treatment of the horses.