(VAN ZANDT COUNTY, TX; DALLAS, TX); November 6, 2018 – Yesterday, before a civil custody hearing, an agreement was reached between the SPCA of Texas and the owner of 110 allegedly cruelly treated animals seized from a property near Canton, Texas on October 26, 2018, for the owner to reliquish custody of all of the animals to the SPCA of Texas. Judge Sandra Plaster awarded the SPCA of Texas restitution in the amount of $31,263.50 to be paid by the owner 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. The SPCA of Texas will continue to provide rehabilitative care and individually evaluate the animals for adoption or placement on a case by case basis.
On October 26, 2018, the SPCA of Texas and the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office seized and the SPCA of Texas took custody of 110 allegedly cruelly treated animals from a property near Canton, Texas. The animals seized include 39 puppies, 35 dogs, 24 cats, 11 kittens and one horse. The puppies, dogs, cats and kittens were transported to the SPCA of Texas’ Russell E. Dealey Animal Rescue Center and the horse was transported to an offsite care facility.
To download photos from the scene, please visit https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ko1eba3y8lqjhgw/AACCRnhLi6ZGwYCVGvHQk26Ea?dl=0.
Many of the dogs were found roaming free inside the feces-filled, urine soaked living room of the residence with no access to food or water. Most of the cats were found inside of a bedroom with several litter boxes full of feces and no access to food or water. More dogs and several litters of puppies were found confined to large, wire crates inside the master bedroom of the residence. Another bedroom held a few cats and a single litter of kittens. Two dogs were kept in a large outdoor pen on the property and the remainder of the dogs were found in the backyard of the residence.
The SPCA of Texas measured the ammonia level to be 279 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.
The animals appeared to be suffering from various health conditions, including hair loss, open sores, eye discharge, long nails, diarrhea and matted fur.
In June of 2018, during an investigation initiated by Child Protective Services, the Children’s Advocacy Center contacted the SPCA of Texas regarding a large number of animals at the property. The SPCA of Texas visited the property right away and was denied access to the inside of the residence. At that time, there was not enough probable cause to obtain a warrant to gain access to the inside of the residence. The investigation continued, and on October 19, the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office notified the SPCA of Texas that new evidence had become available during the course of the investigation that indicated unhealthy living conditions and potential animal cruelty. The lead agency, Child Protective Services, working with the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office and the SPCA of Texas, was able to obtain probable cause and provide proper evidence of dire living conditions inside the residence to a judge in order to seek a search and seizure warrant. Both warrants were executed on Friday, October 26.
The owners of the animals were arrested at the scene for child endangerment and animal cruelty and were booked into Van Zandt County Jail.
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/helptheanimals.