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Pony killed in apparent shooting outside Rohnert Park (w/video)

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the apparent shooting of a pony on Pressely Road east of Rohnert Park.

An Animal Control officer and a deputy responded to the rural residence Sunday morning after receiving a call from a property owner who said his pony had died. The owner, Robert Sapiane, said a passing cyclist alerted him that his 16-year-old blond pony, Misty, was distressed. He found the pony bleeding in the pasture. The animal died minutes later.

With a neighbor’s help, he moved the pony into a barn. The owner told the deputy that he found what appeared to be a .22-caliber bullet hole in the pony’s left rear flank.

An area check revealed that a neighbor heard what may have been a small caliber gunshot around midnight, a sheriff’s spokesperson said.

The pony was collected by Animal Control and transported to the University of California, Davis for a necropsy. The cause of death will be determined after the necropsy.

Sapiane said the incident is unsettling.

“I feel very angry about it,” he said. “It puts you on edge, not being sure if this person is going to come back.”

Sapiane, an auto technician, said he doesn’t have any other animals except a German shepherd. His pasture is near the road and not in an area where hunters would hunt, he said.

Misty was a pet for his 4- and 6-year-old daughters, he said.

“Of course they are sad,” he said. “That was their pony.”

Under California law, a person convicted of maiming or killing an animal can be imprisoned up to three years and fined $20,000. Two years ago, a horse was shot and killed at a pasture in the hills above Bennett Valley.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the pony’s death. The Animal Legal Defense Fund can be reached at 795-2533.

The Sheriff’s Office Property Crimes Unit is investigating the case. Anyone with information about the incident should call the Sheriff’s Office at 565-2185.

You can reach Staff Writer Matt Brown at 521-5206 or matt.brown@pressdemocrat.com.

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