Story by Paul Shahen
Eyewitness News Reporter

TUNNEL HILL, WHITFIELD COUNTY (WRCB) - A case of animal cruelty in North Georgia will have a good ending. Three horses near death have been rescued by a Chattanooga woman. And it's not the first time she's done this.

The rescued horses spent the entire time Channel 3 was at Storybook Rescue Farm eating like there was no tomorrow. The ironic part, they may not have had a tomorrow if it wasn't for this caring family.

Rescue Farm owner Crystal Montgomery said, "they've been eating around the clock, they've been here for a week. We've not seen them take a break, they're constantly at the hay. Eating non-stop, and that's what they need to be doing."

Guliver, Phoenix, and Mariposa may not have made it past the new year if it wasn't for Crystal Montgomery and the Storybook Rescue Farm.

Starving and dehydrated, Montgomery feared the worst.

"The stallion was the worst of the three, we picked them up right before the snow and the cold. I don't think the stallion would have done well, don't think he would have survived," said Montgomery.

A healthy horse eats 25 pounds of food a day, but for months these rescued horses were fed a combined four pounds a day.

The owner was arrested in Dalton on animal cruelty charges.  Crystal said he signed the horses over to avoid the judicial system.

Montgomery has seen this too many times. She says it starts with a lack of knowledge.

"They usually end up with horses because they're cheap or free right now, they don't realize how much food they need, and water. It's ignorance," said Montgomery.

Since opening in 2004, Cystal figures she's saved the lives of 20 horses. Right now her farm has upwards of 30 healthy horses, any of which you could own.

"Our goal is to adopt the horses out, sometimes that's not possible, if they're too old, we'll let them stay here and retire. You don't want to move them around a lot," said Montgomery.

Crystal couldn't stress enough, that before you purchase a horse make sure you know how expensive and time consuming it may be.

If you're interested in adopting, they have a website with all the info you could want.