Lopez accuses Animal Care and Control of ‘covering up’ for own failures by clearing owner of dead horse

Chicago’s chronically-troubled Commission on Animal Care and Control was accused Tuesday of “covering up” for its own failures by declaring that the owner of a horse found dead at a home in Englewood was not guilty of animal abuse.

One day after, essentially being called a liar, Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) was not about to let it drop.

The City Council’s leading animal rights activist, Lopez plans to introduce a resolution at Wednesday’s meeting demanding “hearings and an investigation” to determine what Animal Care did or didn’t do in response to a litany of prior complaints against the horse’s owner, Leo Beltran.

The alderman questioned how Beltran could possibly have been cleared by the city when Animal Care “allowed the dead horse to leave the premises without inspection” and allowed Beltran to “get the live horse out of there before” the surviving horse could be examined.

Lopez noted that Beltran was cited for violations six times in the last year.

“Six times tells me something’s going on and they know about it,” he said.

”Whether or not they’re trying to cover up their lack of action or deflect from the lack of responsibility they’re taking — something is going on at that place.”

Lopez said Beltran claimed his horse died from worms, but worms “take a long time to make its way through an animal’s body. It’s not something you just die overnight from. So, there obviously has been something going on” that Animal Care should have pursued, but didn’t.

“It’s really questionable to me what they set as their standards for ensuring neglect is not taking place when they have not done anything to ensure that these animals were healthy from the very start,” Lopez said.

Two horses, including a dead one, were found in a yard in the 1000 block of West 61st Street in Englewood.Ald. Raymond Lopez via Facebook

Jennifer Schlueter, assistant to the director of Animal Care and Control, could not be reached for comment on Lopez’s demand for an investigation.

The bizarre incident started on Saturday afternoon when Chicago police and Animal Care and Control went to the 1000 block of 61st Street for a “well-being check” on two horses. A caller stated the horses were “not looking good” and “possibly deceased,” according to police.

They found one horse dead and the owner on the scene.

Lopez then took to Twitter to decry the “gruesome scene” he saw: one horse injured, another one dead — and a Rottweiler eating the carcass.

Lopez said the horses were kept with no food, water or shelter. They were “covered in feces” and “left for dead.”

Beltran denied that narrative and accused Lopez of a cruel publicity stunt that only exacerbates a family tragedy.

Animal Care and Control Monday issued a statement saying the surviving animals “did not present any sign of mistreatment, they were not emaciated, nor were there any signs of poor health.” The owner said “the deceased horse had been to the veterinarian recently and provided records for that visit.”

Beltran was cited for failure to provide updated vaccine records for the surviving horse; he said he would email the department those records.

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