A Riverside County man was arrested on charges of felony animal cruelty after police say he bludgeoned his horse with a sledgehammer, decapitated it with a chain saw and fed it to his dogs.

Jack Ziniuk, 64, of rural Anza called authorities Sunday morning to say his horse had been injured by dogs, was having seizures and needed to be put down, Riverside County Sheriff’s Sgt. Bill Roach said.

But when officers arrived they found a headless horse. A bloody sledgehammer was submerged in a bucket of water and a chain saw sat nearby. The animal’s head was lying in a dog run where Roach said it was serving as food for Ziniuk’s dogs.

“He told us he was having an argument with his neighbors and some dogs had attacked his horse, but when deputies got out there they found the horse already dead,” Roach said. “He essentially admitted that he did it and that no dogs had attacked the horse.”

Roach said he didn’t know why Ziniuk would call police to say his animal was ill and then behead it before they arrived.


The Riverside County Department of Animal Services has been to Ziniuk’s property numerous times because of his animals’ living conditions, said John Welsh, department spokesman.

“We have been keeping an eye on this guy for a long time,” he said. “We have cited him for having too many dogs and not having dog licenses. We have cited him for everything we could cite him for, but he has done just enough to avoid seizure of his animals.”

Court records show that Ziniuk has faced multiple kennel violation charges along with failure to get his animals properly vaccinated.

Welsh said Ziniuk had at least 33 dogs, eight puppies, 10 goats, peacocks and geese.

Two other men on the property will care for those animals while Ziniuk is gone.

-- David Kelly