It's a battle that Talbot County residents along Highway 208 say they've been complaining about for years. They say John Weaver can't afford to feed his horses, so he lets them starve to death.
An open investigation is being conducted by the Department of Agriculture, and deputies from the Sheriff's Office have just picked up the case.
"We got a report from a citizen that he had some horses in question that were malnourished. They looked bad. We started an investigation. I can tell you that warrants were signed, and a suspect has been charged and arrested," said investigator Guy Grimsley.
John Weaver turned himself into authorities Thursday. He lives across from the street bearing his same name and faces 36 counts of animal cruelty for allowing his horses to fall into poor health.
Last week, a hunter driving a four-wheeler through the woods alerted police after seeing a dead horse on the edge of Weaver's property. That hunter also witnessed a colt being eaten alive by buzzards, too weak to fight them off.
Besides the 36 horses that deputies observed in poor condition, there are many more that remain in Waver's care.
"When we went out there were somewhere around 80- in the 80 range," said Grimsley.
Authorities wanted to seize all the animals from Weaver's property, but they ran into a problem. There are no local rescue agencies with the capacity to take in that many horses at one time.
Weaver has since bonded out of jail and local residents say they've witnessed him trying to move the horses to a different location, away from the eyes of authorities.
The courts have yet to schedule a hearing for Weaver and he may be waiting until August for a grand jury. But if there is any good news, officials say that with new grass growing, there may be hope for these horses until at least the end of the summer.
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