YANTIS, TX (KLTV) – 30 starving horses are being cared for after being rescued in Wood County on Monday and their owner is nowhere to be found.
The horses were rescued at a property on CR 1960, near Hwy 154 in the Yantis area.
Authorities have been investigating reports of animal cruelty at the property for about two years now.
During their mission to rescue the animals, authorities say it was too late for some.
Upon arrival, a 9-month-old starved filly was found alone and stranded. She struggled to stand, but was too weak to do so.
She was the first of nearly 30 horses to be rescued, and the breaking point of a two-year-long investigation.
"We got a call about the same horse being down and when deputies arrived, they found the horse covered with hay. I'm assuming in an effort to conceal the horse from somebody from seeing it," says Sgt. Kilan Polk of the Wood County Sheriff's Office.
Pam Dountas of True Blue Animal Rescue calls it, "Very sad. It just kills us."
Dountas says the horses' living conditions are unbearable, and that the dried-up country side was their only source of food.
"They're not being fed. Basically they're surviving on water and maybe a weed," explained Dountas.
Rescuers spent hours trying to lure the horses into the trailer so treatment could begin/
According to Dountas, at least five of the mares were pregnant and starving.
"They don't even know what a feed bucket is, what the sound of feed is. They've never had any interactions with humans, so of course, they're not approachable," Dountas said.
Authorities took KLTV's Jena Johnson to the back pasture, where the search took a disturbing turn, "For some horses, the rescue came too late. As their mission went on, they continued to find more bones."
Dountas and others continued to discover skulls hidden in the brush, so far, at least five have been found.
"Judging by the teeth on the animals, it isn't like they went out away to die because of old age. There's a lot of carcasses out there. There's a lot of dead horses," Dountas explained.
The ones that made it out alive are safe and undergoing extensive treatment.
An arrest warrant has been issued for the horses' owner, Linda Hurley. Authorities say she will be charged with animal cruelty.