HENDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) — Auben Stenovich and Cody Phelps were boarding horses for others on their property. Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse says he received concerning tips about the treatment of these animals.

“At the time the call came in they were really concerned about one particular horse that was down and basically were saying someone has got to get out there to save the horse,” says Sheriff Botie Hillhouse, Henderson Co. Sheriff.

Henderson County Animal Control responded to the call. When they arrived, they discovered three horses were already dead and the others were in serious condition.

“They were down to eating bark from trees to try and get nourishment. So they weren’t being taken care of. However, the folks that were arrested basically told us the owner of the horses had not been paying rent, have not been sending money like they should to be able to feed the horses, and but nobody had reported the situation,” says Sheriff Hillhouse.

The remaining 31 horses have been removed from the property and reunited with their owner.

“We contacted the owner of the horses, started working with them. They came down on the 5th and 6th and removed their horses from the property,” says Sheriff Hillhouse.

Animal experts at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison say there are signs people can look out for to determine if an animal isn’t receiving proper care.

“Low weight, if you can see see they are emaciated I mean that’s an obvious indicator, they lose muscle mass, their coat gets dull, they could lose hair, they could have neurological symptoms. There’s many many issues that could happen when a horse doesn’t have proper diet they need to survive,” says Noelle Almrud, Senior Director Black Beauty Ranch.

Stenovich and Phelps are facing 34 counts of animal cruelty and could face up to two years in prison.