CRAIG, Colo. (CBS4)– A cash reward fund continues to grow as a rural Colorado community wants answers surrounding the brutal death of a horse in Moffat County.

Gary Nichols is the investigator assigned to this strange case of animal abuse following the gruesome discovery of Cricket, the 16-year-old mare on July 6.

Nichols tells CBS4 the death of Cricket is the most abnormal case of animal abuse he has seen in his 15 years as an investigator for Moffat County Sheriff’s Office.

Earlier this month, Cricket’s owner Glen Gariner found his beloved horse dead in his pasture.

Cricket the horse (credit: Glen Gariner )

Cricket the horse (credit: Glen Gariner )

Gariner says Cricket’s hind legs were hobbled together and lashed to a fence. He has no idea what happened or why someone would hurt his horse.

Gariner had been working long hours at a local coal mine and said he did not notice something was wrong in the pasture until he saw Cricket laying down, something Gariner says was unusual.

“I was just sickened,” Gariner said. “Totally sickening, it’s not right. Who would do something so terrible to another living thing?”

Moffat County Sheriff’s Office has not established any suspects and is conducting an investigation.

“Someone had to have put the rope around the horse’s rear hocks,” he said. “It wasn’t accidental where the horse got tangled up in the rope. It was a deliberate act.”

The culprit faces charges of animal cruelty, according to Nichols.

Gariner originally offered a $500 cash reward, but since the news of this story broke, nearly $2,000 has been raised to the growing reward as the community searchers for answers.

Additional Information from the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office:

To report any information regarding this incident, call the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office at 970-824-4495.

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to mrkroschel@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

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