A seizure was made of an alleged puppy mill in Honey Grove, a tiny town 90 miles northeast of Dallas that unironically calls itself "the sweetest town in Texas."
On January 5, the SPCA of Texas, the Fannin County Sheriff's Office, and the Honey Grove Police Department seized 140 animals living in horrific conditions. The SPCA of Texas took custody of the animals, which included 117 dogs, 21 puppies, and two cats, and transported them to the organization's Russell E. Dealey Animal Rescue Center in Dallas. They'll be examined by medical staff and cared for until a custody hearing takes place.
More than 30 dogs were housed inside the residence on the property, but most of the animals were confined to a structure behind the residence. There, the dogs were living in filthy cages, crates, and kennels, up to three dogs in each. The structure was infested with roaches, which were found crawling all over the dogs and cats housed there.
In one area, the dogs were being housed in feces- and urine-filled wire crates stacked on top of each other. In another area, a makeshift run of feces- and urine-filled pens held the majority of the dogs.
The entire structure was coated in feces and drenched in urine, and the stench of feces and urine was so strong that it caused investigators to gag and could be smelled from well outside the structure.
The animals appear to be suffering from various health issues, including matted fur, fur loss, fleas, dental issues, long nails, ear issues, tumors, and more.
The animal owner admitted to selling the dogs, many of which were small breeds such as Yorkies, Maltese, and Pomeranians. All large-scale animal breeders in Texas are required by law to be licensed and inspected on a regular basis. It is unclear at this point if the animal owner is properly licensed.
The Texas puppy mill bill, known as the Large-Scale Commercial Dog and Cat Breeder Bill, took effect on September 1, 2012. It provides guidelines for the treatment of animals in large-scale commercial breeding operations in Texas, defined as breeders who keep 11 or more breeding females or sell 20 or more puppies or kittens a year.
The law specifies that certain parameters exist for such animals, including feeding, space, shelter, ventilation and medical care, and is administered by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.
A better law would ban these kinds of operations altogether.
The SPCA of Texas' Animal Cruelty Investigators and the Fannin County Sheriff's Office were alerted to the situation by Child Protective Services, who were on the property on another matter. CPS sent a complaint of suspected animal cruelty.
The SPCA of Texas' Investigators and the Fannin County Sheriff's Office visited the property on January 5. Seeing the circumstances, they agreed that it was in the animals' best interest to seize them, and took the information to a judge who granted a search and seizure warrant.
A custody hearing will be held on Friday, January 12 at the Fannin County Justice of the Peace in Bonham, with Honorable Judge Royce W. Smithey presiding.