A rural Manitoba man is facing more than 40 animal cruelty charges after police raided a farm and found dozens of unhealthy and neglected dogs, horses and donkeys.

In late November, RCMP in Manitoba received a complaint from a local resident about a farm in the Rural Municipality of Swan River. On Dec. 1, police, alongside staff from the office of Manitoba's Chief Veterinarian and local animal control officers, raided the farm and removed 27 dogs, 15 horses and two donkeys from the property.

The animals were all unhealthy, neglected and receiving inadequate care, according to police. Emaciated horses were found standing outside on piles of frozen manure, with hoofs that were left un-groomed and growing upwards.

The dogs, most of them German Shepherds, were found in a barn where they had been tied up for so long that their fur had grown over the chains. Rescuers say the dogs were forced to eat their own feces, which was piled one metre high in some places.

"They were covered in manure," said volunteer rescuer Debbie Peterson. "They were scared, they were terrified."

Bonnie Riddell of Papa's Ranch Equine Rescue said the horses appeared to have been neglected for several years, and there was evidence of "serious starvation."

She and other local residents say they had reported suspected abuse at the farm for years, to no avail.

"This is a very long-term abuse situation that has been reported for many, many years that was not dealt with through the provincial vet's office," Riddell told CTV Winnipeg.

Representatives from Manitoba's veterinarian's office said they investigate all complaints they receive, and point out there may have been previous warnings or fines issued against the farm's owner that were not made public.

CTV News has learned that the accused had indeed been charged with offences under the Animal Control Act twice in the past two years, including operating a kennel without a licence. Those charges are still before the courts.

The animals rescued on Dec. 1 are now under the care of the RM of Swan River. Jeff Blythe, who is helping care for the animals, says some "still aren't out of the woods yet," but many are improving.

"I can say that they're happy," Blythe told CTV Winnipeg. "That's how I can sum it up."

On Dec. 7, police charged Walter Goba, 68, of Swan River with 44 counts of causing damage or injury to animals. He is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 5. If convicted, Goba could face a fine and up to six months in jail.

With a report from CTV Winnipeg's Josh Crabb and CTV's Jill Macyshon