The women had had the operation for about nine years on North Point Pleasant Road and became so “overwhelmed with dogs” that they neglected them “because of economic reasons,” Dolle told The Mirror. Although the SPCA termed the animals “cruelly treated” in a news release, Dolle told the newspaper Thursday they were neither starved nor mistreated, and their condition ranged from poor to good—but the owners “just couldn’t take care of them.”
The SPCA took the dogs and six cats to McKinney, and they will be evaluated before Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace W.V. Ray holds a hearing at 1 p.m. May 16 to decide what to do with them, Dolle said. The women, who face no criminal charges thus far pending an ongoing investigation, could ask for them back, the constable noted.
The other animal, a horse in extremely poor condition, was taken by Richard Fincher of Safe Haven, an Upshur County horse rescue operation, said Dolle, who instigated the seizure.
In its news release out of McKinney, SPCA Of Texas said that if it is “awarded custody of the animals, they would be individually evaulated for potential adoption or placement on a case-by-case basis.
“Most of the dogs were found living in (a) trash-filled residence on the property in rows of plastic, metal and wooden crates,” the news release said. “Approximately 20 dogs were found inside fenced-in kennels behind the building. Nine of the dogs were tethered outside.
“Various breeds found include Great Pyranees mixes, hound mixes, Miniature Pinschers, Red Heelers and other mixed breeds. The dogs appear to have various health issues, including hair loss, tumors, labored breathing, eye issues, skin issues, matted fur,” the document added.
One canine had a distended abdomen and another had an injured tail, the SPCA added.
“Most of the cats were kept in carriers inside the residence on the property,” though one was in a metal cage, and many of them had matted fur, the news release said.
In addition, the horse lived “outside in a pasture, is very underweight and has a dull coat,” the document stated.
Dolle said he obtained a search-and-seizure warrant for the animals after representatives of the City of Longview’s Humane Society, City of Longview senior Animal Control Officer Jacqui Lynch, and City of Gladewater Animal Control Officer Mark Dennison inspected the property and found most of the animals in “moderate” condition, but many in poor shape. The property included a warehouse-like structure.
Dolle said the animals’ plight surfaced when the women fell behind on their rent and he received a legal notice to evict them. He said the landowners told him there were many dogs and other animals on the property.
One of the women cared for the animals full-time, while the other came and went, the constable said.
When he and Ms. Lynch, an Upshur County resident, visited one of the women at the home for him to serve the eviction citation, the woman refused to let them inspect the warehouse, but said she had at least 50 dogs and that she didn’t know what she would do with them when evicted, said Dolle.
He said he discovered three law violations involving four dogs who were chained outside.
“So this raised flags that there (were) possibly bigger problems. Why would they not allow us to go back (to the warehouse) and inspect?” Dolle said.
Upon interviewing neighbors, he said, he learned the women had become “overwhelmed with dogs,” possibly “because of the economy.”
Dolle said he consulted District Attorney Billy Byrd about the situation and, in the meantime, the eviction order was appealed into County Court. In addition, one of the women called the Longview Humane Society to see how many of the dogs it could take, the constable said.
According to Dolle, she told the society’s director, Scott Holloway, the two women had become “overwhelmed with dogs,” were losing their lease, and having to move. “She agreed to let him come out,” and he apprised her he would need to bring others to assist him, the constable said.
Holloway, his assistant Kharha Hetrick, and the two animal control officers did “a thorough inspection of the property and of the animals. And they found the animals to be basically unadoptable for this area because when they presented what they found to other rescue (agencies), they wouldn’t take them,” Dolle said.
Some of the dogs were “very aggressive,” he said. Dolle added Friday that none of the rescue agencies which were contacted could handle that many dogs, as “The vet bills alone would be astronomical.”
Dolle said the inspecting officials brought their reports to him, and that he and Holloway called the SPCA in Dallas Wednesday for assistance. The constable said he called one of the women and asked if he, Holloway and the SPCA could inspect the property, but she refused.
The SPCA sent an investigator to this area Wednesday, and Dolle, with Byrd’s help, obtained the search-and-seizure warrant from Judge Ray, the constable said.
Joining Dolle and the SPCA in making the seizure, which took four and a half hours starting at 8 a.m. Thursday, were Ms. Lynch, East Mountain Police Officer Matt Graham, Upshur County Pct. 3 Constable Stanley Jenkins, and Fincher.
One of the two women was present and became cooperative after being initially upset, Dolle said.
About 10 representatives of the SPCA, accompanied by a veterinarian and two veterinary technicians, participated and “the SPCA is very professional. They’re very organized, and they know what to do,” Dolle said.
Each dog was caged, tagged and briefly evaluated by the veterinarian, he said. The vicious canines were collared with a catch pole, which slips over their neck.
“There has been so much cooperation between a number of agencies to get this done. I have been overwhelmed with cooperation,” Dolle said Thursday.
He said that Ms. Lynch, who volunteered to assist him, had been the most help. She took a vacation day from her job with the City of Longview’s consent to help on Thursday, he noted. Dolle also said Byrd’s office was “extremely cooperative.”