Police were stymied Thursday by the early-morning deaths of two goats, four chickens and two turkeys at a small horse farm in north Mesa.
A third goat and a pig survived, but were injured, police said.
The killings took place between 4:10 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. on Mesa Drive between McKellips Road and Loop 202, according to neighbors who were caring for the animals while their owners were out-of-town.
The neighbors told police they’d checked on the animals at 4:10 a.m. and all was well. But when they returned to feed at about 5:30 a.m., they discovered the deaths.
Police don’t have any suspects and aren’t entirely sure how the killings occurred. Investigators said the deaths of the chickens and turkeys were consistent with kicking or stomping, and the goats were found with red marks on their necks, indicating the possible use of a rope or other type of strangulation.
Det. Steve Berry said police are investigating, but the animals’ bodies were left with the neighbors to determine how the owners wanted to handle them.
Berry said farm animal killings are uncommon in Mesa because it is a metropolitan area.
State animal cruelty laws prohibit people from unnecessarily injuring, torturing or killing animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. If the perpetrators of Thursday’s slaying are caught, they may face either misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on investigators’ recommendations.
Causing “cruel mistreatment,” which is a felony, means “to torture or otherwise inflict unnecessary physical injury upon an animal or to kill an animal in a manner that causes protracted suffering to the animal.”