WOODBINE, Md. (WUSA)--A horrific case of animal abuse and neglect unfolded in an evening raid in rural Oakland, Maryland.
Authorities in Garrett County seized two dozen emaciated horses and about 20 starving cows, and brought them to Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine for rehabilitation.
One by one, emaciated horses took their first tentative steps toward a better life, leaving behind deplorable conditions in an Oakland, Maryland pasture without food or water, littered with horse and cow carcasses.
"This is as bad as it gets. It doesn't get any worse than this," said Brenda Curry, the President of the Board of Directors at Days End.
"Carcasses on a property," added Sue Mitchell of Days End. "And horses that are literally skin stretched over a skeleton. We'd call that horrific. It's despicable."
The weak, neglected horses are recovering at Days End Farm, where they face a long journey of rehabilitation. Many need to overcome fear, parasites, skin fungus and hooves that are overgrown and chipped. They are the lucky ones.
"What you see is the extreme. We have horses with hips protruding. Spines showing. No measurable body fat," said Mitchell.
The cows that survived are just down the road at James Ferguson's farm.
"They're not put on this earth to be punished or to starve, and these poor animals are starving to death," said Curry.
Healing these horses comes at a high price, more than $2,000 a horse, in just the first month.
Authorities are calling this one of the worst and largest animal abuse cases in state history. Criminal charges are now pending against the owner of the farm in Oakland, Maryland, a man who has been under scrutiny by animal control for the last four years.
Written by Andrea McCarren
9NEWS NOW & WUSA9.COM