A horse is recovering from apparent starvation and its owner faces criminal charges after the animal was seized from a west Forsyth farm where authorities found four others dead.
“It’s probably one of the worst cases of malnourishment I have ever seen,” said Forsyth County Sheriff’s Lt. David Waters.
“I’ve never seen anything like this. The horse was very unsteady on his feet as we were loading him onto the trailer.”
Waters said authorities went to check the area off Franklin Goldmine Road recently after a neighbor complained of a strong odor.
Deputies found the bodies of three horses and a cow in a pasture. According to a sheriff’s report, the carcasses had been there more than a month.
Another horse was found alive but severely malnourished in a stable. Its ribs and hip bones were visible, the report said, and it was very weak.
Waters said the malnourished horse is probably about two years old, though it appeared at the time to be older than 30.
The animal was taken to local veterinarian Lanier Orr for treatment.
Waters said it appears the owner, 37-year-old Roque Perez Hernandez, was buying and selling the horses.
Hernandez was charged April 10 with one count of animal cruelty and four counts of failure to dispose of dead animals.
He was released the next day from the Forsyth County Detention Center on $3,575 bond, a jail spokeswoman said.
Waters said eight other horses were also on the property, but they were healthy.
Authorities are working with the Forsyth County Solicitor General’s office to determine how and to whom they will be released.