By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 11:37 EST, 20 February 2013 | UPDATED: 17:11 EST, 20 February 2013

The owners of a Utah horse ranch are facing more than 100 neglect charges after deputies acting on a tip discovered three horses buried in a shallow grave, several others so malnourished they couldn’t stand, and another stuck in a fence and too weak to break free.

Utah County Sheriff’s office has arrested Trudy Childs, 59, and her son, Rory Childs, 31, on 101 counts of animal cruelty and 31 counts of livestock at large, Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon said.

Accompanied by a veterinarian, Utah County Sheriff’s visited the Smokey Mountain Ranch in Spanish Fork housing about 100 horses last week after getting a report from a neighbor.

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WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

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Trudy Childs
Rory Childs

Ranchers: Trudy Childs, left, and her son Rory, right, were arrested and charged with 101 counts of animal cruelty and 31 counts of livestock at large after officials say they had let their horses starve

 

Desperation: Deputies acting on a tip discovered starving horses stuck to barbed wire fences after trying to get to the trees on the other side so that they could gnaw on the bark Desperation: Deputies acting on a tip discovered starving horses stuck to barbed wire fences after trying to get to the trees on the other side so that they could gnaw on the bark

 

Horrific neglect: A young colt got stuck in a fence and was too weak from starvation to break freeHorrific neglect: A young colt got stuck in a fence and was too weak from starvation to break free

 

Mass grave: At least four dead animals were found buried in hastily dug graves on the Childses' property Mass grave: At least four dead animals were found buried in hastily dug graves on the Childses’ property

Five of the animals have died in recent weeks and about 12 others are ‘skin and bones, at death’s doorstep,’ Cannon said. He said Trudy Childs has told them that 12 horses have died recently from starvation.

Utah County Sheriff James Tracy called it one of the largest and most severe cases of animal abuse he has seen in 35 years, according to Desert News.

It’s the first arrest for Rory Childs, but his mother has been previously charged with animal cruelty and more than 400 counts of livestock at large, Cannon said. Deputies have had regular contact with what he said has been a problematic ranch.

Trudy Childs has 24 cases pending against her in 4th District Court. She is facing 165 counts of livestock at large, 38 counts of livestock on a highway, 38 counts of maintaining a public nuisance and one count of cruelty to animals.

Rory Childs called the charges false and unfair, and said they’ll fight them in court.

‘We’ve been doing everything we can to keep them fed and get them back healthy,’ Rory Childs said.

He said they’re stuck in a legal dispute with a ranch near Ogden owned by Linda Barrow and her son Justin Barrow that was supposed to feed and take care of their horses in a contractual agreement they entered into.

Unimaginable cruelty: Officials said the horses have lost 300-400lbs over the course of several months Unimaginable cruelty: Officials said the horses have lost 300-400lbs over the course of several months

 

Tragic sight: Five of the animals have died in recent weeks and about 12 others are skin and bones and unlikely to survive Tragic sight: Five of the animals have died in recent weeks and about 12 others are skin and bones and unlikely to survive

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