ATHENS, TX (KLTV) - Some were infested with parasites. Their hooves were overgrown, and when authorities raided the 3-Strikes Mustang Ranch in Nebraska in April, they found more than 70 dead horses on the ground baking in the sun.
But, fortunately, the humane society stepped in and saved most of the horses, and many of the neglected mustangs are quickly recovering right here in East Texas, they are ready to be adopted.
The authorities arrived too late for many of the horses. The dead carcases of more than 70 mustangs were spread out along the grounds the 3-Strike Ranch in Nebraska.
"The horses that were still alive - [these] 210, were emaciated. They were in horrible conditions," said Diane Miller, Director of Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch. "They were walking skeletons essentially."
Animal welfare groups raided the ranch, finding nearly 200 mustangs malnourished, living in filthy, crowded pens, and without access to fresh water.
"The vets there on the property had done an [autopsy] on a couple who died during the rescue process and said he'd never seen anything like it," said Miller. "The infestation of the parasites was so horrible."
So horrible that they needed urgent care. The Humane Society of the United States stepped up and adopted the 2010 mustangs, placing them in facilities across the states.
One of which in Athens, Texas, where 84 horses, after just three months, are making a speedy recovery.
"They were very afraid of people - had no trust," said Beth DeCaprio, Executive Director of the Grace Foundation of Northern California. "And, to see them now. The whites in their eyes [are]gone, and they're excited to meet and greet people, and to see that they have a whole new lease on life is just really exciting."
The mustangs are now healthy and looking for new owners. DeCaprio says 69 horses are now up for adoption to the next responsible owner.
"If it doesn't work out, we will take the horses back," said DeCaprio. "So, you're assured that it's going to be the right fit."
It's a story of survival, and a road to recovery with a happy ending.
The former owner of those horses is currently facing 49 counts of felony cruel neglect of animal charges.
If you're interested in adopting one of these stallions, please visit www.equineonline.org.