Man charged with several counts of animal cruelty

Leonard – A disturbing discovery over the weekend leads to the arrest of a Fannin County man.

Deputies and a rescue team from Habitat for Horses were called to a property near Leonard where they found 23 dead donkeys and two dead horses. Nearly a dozen such animals were still alive, but reportedly emaciated.

Property owner Lee Epperson told police he's been out of work and didn't have money to pay for the animals. Epperson is charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty.

Initial reports show starvation killed the donkeys and horses, although the recent cold weather may also have contributed.

It could take up to several months for the animals rescued to recover.