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(HUNT COUNTY, TX; DALLAS, TX; McKINNEY, TX); February 28, 2020 – Yesterday, during a civil custody hearing, the Honorable Judge Sheila Linden awarded the SPCA of Texas custody of 167 animals seized from a property in Hunt County, Texas on February 19 and February 20. The judge also awarded $44,927.75 in restitution to the SPCA of Texas for the cost of investigation, expert witnesses, housing and care for the animals from the time of the seizure to the hearing in accordance with Texas Health and Safety Code. However, the SPCA of Texas does not expect to receive any of this money to help offset costs. If the animal owner does not file an appeal in the next ten days, the SPCA of Texas would at that time individually evaluate the animals for adoption or placement on a case by case basis. If the animal owner does file an appeal in the next ten days, that hearing will take place at a later date, and that court’s ruling will be final.
On Wednesday, February 19, 2020, the SPCA of Texas, the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office and the Hunt County Constable’s Office seized 128 animals and on Thursday, February 20, 2020, an additional 18 animals, from a property in Hunt County, Texas. The total 146 animals seized included 119 dogs, 19 puppies, six donkeys, one horse and one cat. Since the time of seizure, 21 puppies have been born while in care of the SPCA of Texas, bringing the total number of animals to 167. The dogs, puppies and cat were transported to the SPCA of Texas’ Russell E. Dealey Animal Rescue Center in Dallas, and the donkeys and horse were transported to the Russell H. Perry Animal Care Center in McKinney.
Forty of the dogs, 19 puppies and the cat were found living inside of a residence on the property, which was filled with feces, urine and debris up to two feet high in some areas. Most of the animals inside were confined to plastic and wire crates, stacked one on top of another, throughout the home. Several of these crates did not have bases, forcing the animals to stand and sit on the hard wire. More than one mother and litter of puppies were found enclosed in feces-covered crates, with no access to food or water. A few dogs roamed the home freely. At the time of the seizure, it did not appear that any of the animals inside the home had access to food or water. The SPCA of Texas measured the ammonia level to be 99 parts per million (ppm) inside of the residence. For a point of reference, short term exposure to any ammonia level over 20 ppm or long term exposure to any level over 12 ppm can cause health problems in humans.
To view and download photos of the animals taken at the property and at the SPCA of Texas, please click on the following link or copy and paste it into a browser: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/kmtbsqq4padajs8/AAAkYWMYQTZyWp1MvXRWWJ3qa?dl=0.
Seventy-nine dogs were found outside, confined to various makeshift pens and enclosures around the property. Most of the enclosures were filled with mud, feces and large, dirty puddles of water. Many of the dogs had little access to appropriate and/or adequate food, water or shelter from the elements. Three dogs were found confined to large, feces-filled plastic crates under a tree, and one dog was found tethered to a wire fence. The horse and donkeys were roaming freely on the property.
The animals appeared to be suffering from several health issues, including scrapes and wounds, long nails, diarrhea and dirty and matted fur. Many of the animals also appeared to be significantly underweight, with their hips, ribs and spines clearly visible. One dog had to receive emergency IV fluids upon arrival at the Rescue Center.
The SPCA of Texas received this case through an animal cruelty complaint. An SPCA of Texas Animal Cruelty Investigator visited the property multiple times, however, the property owner would not allow the investigator beyond a privacy gate located where the property met the road. The majority of the animals were not visible from the street, and the investigator continued to work the case, as only credible evidence or probable cause as required by the legal process can be used to build a case that can be filed with the proper authority. After several visits, the investigator was able to make contact with a neighbor, who allowed access to their adjoining property, giving the investigator the ability to see the animals. This, along with another witness statement, gave the investigator the probable cause needed to obtain a search and seizure warrant for the entire property and residence.
The SPCA of Texas is currently in need of the community’s support to help care for these animals. You can help the organization in the following ways:
To help support the SPCA of Texas and its efforts to help abused, neglected and homeless animals and to support the SPCA of Texas’ other programs and services, please visit www.spca.org/give. To learn more about the SPCA of Texas, please visit our website at www.spca.org.
The SPCA of Texas is the leading animal welfare organization in North Texas. Founded in 1938, the non-profit operates two shelters, three spay/neuter clinics and an animal rescue center, all located in Dallas and Collin Counties, and maintains a team of animal cruelty investigators who respond to thousands of calls in North Texas counties. Moreover, the SPCA of Texas serves as an active resource center for an array of services that bring people and animals together to enrich each other’s lives. The SPCA of Texas is not affiliated with any other entity and does not receive general operating funds from the City of Dallas, State of Texas, federal government or any other national humane organization. The SPCA of Texas is dedicated to providing every animal exceptional care and a loving home. For more information, visit spca.org.
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