LIBERTY COUNTY -

A Liberty County man has been arrested after investigators said he dragged a pony behind his pickup truck.

The Liberty County Sheriff's Office said it received a 911 call from a witness Wednesday morning.

The witness said a man was dragging a small black and white Shetland pony behind his red pickup truck on CR 6021. The witness told authorities that each time the little horse stumbled and fell on the road surface, the man would get out and beat the small horse across the head with a belt and buckle. He would then get back in his truck and drag the horse again.

Deputies went to the area and said they found the pony owner, 68-year-old Francisco Castillo Cruz, at his home on CR 6023 just outside Dayton.

One deputy asked to inspect the pony and found that most of its hair and skin on the left side of the animal was gone. Deputies said there was physical damage to the pony's hoofs, and its left eye also had severe damage.

According to one deputy, the pony may lose its left eye as a result of the injury.

Deputies said Cruz told them he abused the pony because he was mad the pony managed to get out of its stall and wander off the property.

Deputies got a seizure warrant and took the pony. They turned it over to the Houston SPCA.

Deputies expect the pony to survive after getting proper treatment.

Cruz was arrested and charged with cruelty to livestock animal placed in the Liberty County Jail. He will go before a judge at a later date to have bond set.

Deputies said a hearing will be held Tuesday, May 13, to determine if the pony should be returned to Cruz or if it will remain in the custody of the Houston SPCA.