Man arrested after APD horse burned with cigarette

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by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News & photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

khou.com

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 8:31 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 22 at 8:31 PM

AUSTIN, Texas -- An Austin man is facing serious charges after police say he burned a mounted patrol police horse with a cigarette on the horse's neck.

According to an arrest affidavit Police were in the process of arresting a woman in the 300 block of E 6th St., upsetting pedestrians nearby.

An Austin police mounted unit was in the area and responded to help with crowd control shortly before 3:00 a.m.

That’s when according to the affidavit a man, later identified as Tyrone Branch Jr. 23, allegedly burned the horse named “Drago” on his neck with a lit cigarette.

An officer on the ground saw Drago move his head in response to the burning, which was later visible as a burn mark on the horses neck, the affidavit said.

"They do extensive training. Constant training happens on 6th Street and at their stables. The horses are used to the downtown area. They don't usually jump at anything. Obviously, this horse shook it's head in a violent fashion. It got burned," said Sgt. David Daniels, Austin Police Spokesman.

"If the horse rears up there's only so much an officer can do. If a horse falls it can be a bad situation for the officer and the public," said Sgt. Daniels. The horses are police service animals. "An officer's dog or horse are an extension of the police family. They are given the same rights as the officers," said Sgt. Daniels.

Branch was arrested and charged with interference with a public service animal.

If convicted, Branch faces up to 2 years in jail.

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