KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A Tennessee man is facing 55 counts of animal cruelty after his horses were rescued from deplorable conditions. The horses have been shipped all across the state and a large group of them are in Knoxville at Horse Haven.

Lots of the horses have matted manes, their ribs and hips are showing because of hunger and they aren’t very social with humans. Since being rescued, Mary Beth Roberts, the organization’s development director, says they’ve been huddled around hay.

“It was horrible, it was horrible. It was 55 horses on four acres. They had no grass left to eat. They were standing in nothing but mud. They’re not used to people at all. We’ve got a lot of work to do and it’s going to be a long process,” said Roberts.

The Giles County Sheriff’s Office rescued more than 50 horses last week from Jeffery Mitchell’s home. Mitchell is charged with 55 counts of animal cruelty. All the horses were shipped to shelters across the state and Horse Haven Knoxville has taken in 22 of them.

“To have that number of horses on such a small piece of land was pretty bad,” said Roberts.

The shelter will need help from the community. More than $50,000 was raised a few days ago from the shelter’s “Dancing for the Horses” event, but that fundraiser was just for annual operating costs.

“These horses are above and beyond our operating budget, so we need money to care for these horses because it’s going to be a very long process,” said Roberts

University of Tennessee veterinarians will be checking the horses this week. Roberts says they had to put down one horse Saturday night.

Horse Haven will also receive funds from the Humane Society of the United States.More online:Horse Haven Knoxville