BANDERA, Texas -- A horse named Cowboy has the words 'suck it' engraved deep into his front teeth.
Whether or not the horse is in any pain has fueled a tug-of-war match between the horse's owner, a concerned veterinarian and local law enforcement.
After examining the horse back in April, Dr. Samantha Mixon said Cowboy is a clear case of animal torture.
“His sensitive structures in his teeth were carved into using a power tool to spell the words 'suck it,'" she said.
The engraving allegedly occurred while Cowboy was at the Running R Ranch in Bandera. Mixon wants whoever was responsible to be held accountable. She also wants the horse to be placed in protective custody where he will never be sold to slaughter.
Mixon filed a complaint with the Bandera County Sheriff’s Department last week after she found out Cowboy had been traded from the Running R Ranch in Bandera to a local horse trader.
Concerned that the horse was still in much pain, Mixon offered to buy the horse with $1,500 in donations that she raised online. But once she raised the money, she was told the horse was no longer for sale.
Cowboy is now owned by Lisa Sorrell of Bandera.
Sorrell said she decided not to sell Cowboy because he is no longer in any sort of pain. She said she is able to saddle Cowboy, and that her husband rides him regularly.
If Cowboy was in pain, Sorrell contests he would not tolerate a rider or even a bridal. She also said she would never send Cowboy to slaughter.
“I don’t sell horses to killers," she said. "I save horses from killers but I don’t sell horses to killers.”
Mixon isn't the only veterinarian to check out Cowboy. Two other vets have allegedly seen the horse and determined he was fine. Because of that, the Bandera County Sheriff's Department said there isn't much they can do.
Sgt. Shane Merritt said, “With the difference in the diagnosis from the vets, it’s going to be hard for us to prove any kind of criminal offense at this point."
Merritt said that even if they wanted to charge the person responsible, they would have a hard time proving their case. In addition, he said the statute of limitations to file charges may have expired since the engraving allegedly occurred.
While the three veterinarians don't agree on whether Cowboy is in any sort of pain, they all agree that engraving the words 'suck it' into his front teeth was a terrible thing for somebody to do to a horse.
“I’d like to hold him down and carve his teeth without anesthesia,” Sorrell said.