The Knox County Sheriff's Office says it has removed 32 horses from a 35 acre property on Voltz Lane in East Knox County.
Officials say the horses appeared emaciated and some appeared to have untreated wounds.
The horses are now temporarily housed at Chilhowee Park. They're being cared for by Horse Haven volunteers.
There were originally 98 horses, two llamas, and one donkey on the property, and the sheriff's office says they along with veterinarians from UT Large Animal Hospital are in the process of evaluating the other animals to determine if they need to be removed as well.
No charges have been filed yet, but the sheriff's office says they do expect to bring charges of animal cruelty.
Tom Womack with the Tennessee Dept. of Agriculture says they got a tip a week and a half ago about a horse carcass that had been improperly disposed of on that property.
After the investigator found signs animal cruelty, Womack says they alerted the Knox County Sheriff's Office.
According to Officer Anthony Rickman the animal's water was contaminated with muck and feces. The hay, he says, was moldy. Some of the animals had gotten stuck in the barbed wire fence and cut themselves to the bone.
"It was a bad situation," says Rickman. "Deplorable conditions."
Captain Robert Hubbs says the sheriff's office had been working with the owners since November to try to get them reduce the size of the herd and improve conditions.
"Today, the conditions had deteriorated to the point where vets from the UT Large Animal Clinic had recommended the animals be taken into protective custody."
Horse Haven volunteers say the animals will remain at Chilhowee park to receive medical care. They say they can't find them new homes until the courts or the owners release them.
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