Authorities were only recently able to gather enough evidence to move on the property, which had been the subject of complaints by neighbors for years

By Alex Heigl
Updated February 01, 2016 07:51 PM

Volunteers rescued over 16 horses, almost two dozen sheep and several dogs from a Pennsylvania property in what one volunteer is calling the worst case of animal neglect she’s ever seen.

“Dead and dying animals were everywhere,” Judy McHale, a volunteer with the Lehigh Valley County Animal Response Team, told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The rescue, which took place Jan. 22 at an undisclosed location (authorities are not releasing further details about the case until their investigation is completed), was run on a tight schedule: Impending snowfall meant the volunteers, some from Last Chance Ranch Animal Rescue in Quakertown, had to work quickly. Five of the most critical horses were taken to the Quakerstown Veterinary Clinic, where three had to be euthanized.

Volunteers discovered animal corpses strewn about the property. Burned carcasses were also discovered, underneath a woodpile, and a trench was filled with an indeterminate number of bones. The rescued horses were dehydrated and starving; some had visible hip and rib bones. Two dogs had frostbitten ears.

“This is the worst I’ve seen,” Lori McCutcheon, president of Last Chance Ranch, told the Inquirer. “For people to walk away and not take care of any animals is unfathomable.”

For authorities, the struggle to get evidence from the remote location was a long one. Neighbors had complained about the neglect for years, but it was only recently police had been able to take action.

To donate to the Last Chance Ranch’s ongoing efforts to care for the rescued animals — which they’ve estimated will take $20,000 — call 215-538-2510 or visit their website.