CRAVEN COUNTY -

Sheriff's deputies get a break in the case of 16 animals found abandoned at a Craven County home. An unexpected owner comes forward after learning via Facebook that the animals had been left behind.

Elizabeth Mayo says she trusted her horse, named Hercules, to Brigido Lopez, 21.  It wasn't until the story about the abandoned animals was posted on Facebook that she realized Hercules was in trouble.

"That horse is mine", a shocked Mayo wrote on News Channel 12’s Facebook page. "If I knew he was just gonna leave him, I wouldn't have let this happen!"

Attempts to find or contact Lopez were not successful.

Craven Animal Control responded to a call Thursday from a property owner who claimed his tenants had left behind several animals after moving out.  The home is on Honolulu Road in the area between Grifton and Vanceboro.

Trinity Smith with Animal Control said a puppy was found locked inside of the trailer, while 13 roosters, two hens and a horse were locked in the backyard.

All of the roosters are missing the red comb on their heads.  Smith says this is a sign the animals were more than abandoned.

“There was evidence there that these roosters were used for cockfighting,” Smith said.

Smith said all of roosters will be euthanized due to their aggressive behavior.  The puppy and the two hens will soon be up for adoption.  Hercules, the horse, will be returned to its owner.

Deputies say the search for Lopez continues.  A warrant has been issued for his arrest.  Lopez faces animal abandonment and animal cruelty charges.

According to public records, the property is owned by Juan Mendez. There is no official information yet as to who may have been renting that property.