ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) -
An anonymous tip led the New Mexico Livestock Board to a disturbing cruelty case involving dozens of starving, filthy, even dead animals on a property in San Miguel County.
It was a tough case for investigators, as they also found a thin, dead horse covered in a shallow grave. News 13 warns viewers some of the images in the video are disturbing.
Investigators said all of the animals seized Saturday are in bad shape. "The worse thing goes through our minds you know, what are we going to find - dead animals, malnourished animals, animals that in this case don't have feed and water," said New Mexico Livestock Board Inspector, James Butterfield.
An anonymous tip led authorities to a home where they found all of the above, six dogs, three cats, 15 to 20 chickens, and five horses neglected, thin, and living in filth. And another, sight, extremely thin horses were pawing at a fence, trying to reach the only water source, which was also filthy, while others gnawed at the dirt, trying to pick up small bits of grass.
"Its hard to deal with these kind of cases, to see these horses being treated like this," said Butterfield. There was no feed or water available to five horses whose bones are clearly visible on their bodies.
Inside the home, were deplorable conditions; feces lined the floors and dirty dishes were piled high but the most gruesome discovery came from a tip, as investigators uncovered a dead horse in covered in a shallow dirt grave.
Butterfield said it's unclear at this point how the horse died, however, he added, "given the evidence that's here at the property, there's a very strong indicator that it is malnourished and dehydrated." Witnesses said the horse has been dead about two weeks.
The property owners, husband and wife, Lonnie and Karla Kingery were nowhere to be found, but officials said they would face cruelty charges.
Most of the animals went to the Las Vegas Animal Shelter where they'll be taken care of. As smaller animals were loaded into crates, Investigators also found 14 dead chickens lying in a pen.
The horses were taken to a holding facility, and will be seen by a veterinarian and on-site Livestock Board officials say if the horses are properly cared for it appears they will be all right.
The Livestock Board is working with the District Attorney's office to file cruelty charges against the couple that owns the property. However, News 13 learned this is not the first time the Livestock Board has been to this property.
Officials said they warned the same couple about their animals before, saying they had made progress but were surprised to see it had gotten to this level Saturday.
Butterfield said there's been an increase in cases like this with approximately 55-60 horses seized in the state since August. Butterfield says he hopes people will call them for help before they get to this point. "Don't just let them starve like these horses, and chickens and dogs and cats are at this location."
The San Miguel County Sheriff's Office, Las Vegas Police, and members of the Animal Welfare Coalition in Northeast New Mexico also assisted in the case.
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