**WARNING: Graphic descriptions of alleged animal cruelty below.

JAY, Okla. – A Delaware County man accused of failing to care for several hundred head of cattle and calves after taking over a quarter-of-a-million dollars is also facing complaints he starved the animals, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

A $75,000 warrant was issued on June 9th for Dustin Morton, 31, of Rose, for embezzlement and cruelty to animals.

Morton faces up to eight years in prison, Prosecutor David Ball said.

Morton worked for four cattle owners who were paying him $772 a day to care for cattle and calves, according to an arrest affidavit.

Not only are investigators alleging Morton failed to care for the cattle but Morton is also accused of running 36 malnourished cows and 31 calves that didn’t belong to him through a Tahlequah sale barn.

The animal abuse charge stems from multiple cow carcasses laying in pastures and “cattle too weak to get up” and “dogs eating them (cattle) alive” and “cattle with their ears chewed off from not being able to fight the dogs off,” the affidavit states.

“I just don’t understand animal cruelty,” Ball said.

An Arkansas veterinarian examined some of the cattle of one cattle owner and determined they were “emaciated near death,” the affidavit states.

The financial losses between the four cattle owners were:

  • One cattle owner estimated $100,000 loss for missing or dead cattle and calf crop;  
  • A second cattle owner paid Morton $34,113 to pasture and feed 459 head of cows with calves, of which approximately 40 head of cattle were dead along with numerous calves missing; Morton was also paid $220,000 per year to care for the cattle;
  • A third cattle owner paid Morton $22,000 to care for his cattle, in addition, 60 calves and 55 head of yearlings are missing, a total loss of approximately $130,000.
  • A fourth cattle owner missing 55 head of cows along with numerous calves for a loss of $80,000 in addition to the money paid to Morton for caring for the cattle.