RECHE CANYON, Calif. (KABC) -- Authorities are searching for the person who shot and killed a burro, presumably with a bow and arrow, in Reche Canyon.
Riverside County Animal Services officers responded to several 911 calls that were made the morning of April 30 about the wounded burro, along Reche Canyon Road between Keissel Road and Mercadante Lane.
"It was shot presumably at fairly close range because the arrow went right through to the other side," said Riverside County Animal Services spokesperson John Welsh. "It pierced the burro's intestines, lung and also liver, so pretty significant injury."
The animal was rushed into emergency surgery but did not survive.
"We don't know how long the arrow was in this animal, but it was suffering," said Welsh. "And it is really a heinous act to do this to an innocent beast."
Hundreds of burros wander the hills of Reche Canyon, between Moreno Valley and Loma Linda. They often cross the road in packs, causing traffic jams on Reche Canyon Road.
"These are innocent beautiful beasts who are very curious," said Welsh. "They'll come right up to you. So somebody purposely harming this animal, it was a shameful act."
This isn't the first time something like this has happened. Animal Services also investigated a report of a burro shot with a bow and arrow back in 2018, when pictures of the wounded animal circulated on social media.
Animal Services officers have turned the arrow over to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, which is investigating the crime. It's possible the perpetrator could be charged with felony animal cruelty because the animal died.
"We know that anybody who's purposely harming a dog, a cat, or in this case a burro -- this is somebody who's definitely suffering from some kind of mental health issue," said Welsh. "That this is just step number one. And then step two down the road they may be abusing a child or a spouse.
"The most famous case of someone harming animals early in life was Jeffrey Dahmer. So we know when people are going out of their way to harm an animal, what else are they capable of?"