A Montana veterinarian says that unless 450 starving horses at a ranch east of Billings receive food they will start dying in droves within two weeks.

Jeff Peila tells the Billings Gazette that a Yellowstone County sheriff's lieutenant shot two horses last week to end their suffering.

The horses belong to James H. Leachman, who raised cattle for four decades before turning to horses and then filing for bankruptcy.

The Yellowstone County Attorney's Office on Friday filed five primary misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and five alternative counts against Leachman.

Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito says it may be the largest horse abuse case in Montana history.

Twito says he plans to call a meeting of government agencies and surrounding ranchers to try to find a way to prevent the horses from starving.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.