Animal Cruelty

Couple arrested on big puppy mill bust northeast of Dallas

Couple arrested on big puppy mill bust northeast of Dallas

Puppy mill
More than 100 dogs were found at a suspected puppy mill in Hunt County, Texas. Photo courtesy of SPCA

A couple accused of running a puppy mill in northeast Texas was arrested on October 26. Jeffery Leon Barrett, 61, and Barbara Jean Barrett, 54, were arrested on warrants from the Hunt County District Attorney's Office on charges of cruelty to non-livestock animals in connection with the seizure of 117 animals from an alleged puppy mill in Hunt County, east of Greenville.

They are being held at the Hunt County Criminal Detention Center on $5,000 bond each.

The investigation began on September 25 when SPCA of Texas' animal cruelty investigator and the Hunt County Constable received a complaint of suspected animal cruelty by the Hunt County Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office had been investigating another matter and found the animals living in allegedly cruel conditions.

The SPCA of Texas' Investigator and the Hunt County Constable visited the property that morning. The owner would not allow the investigators to enter, but they could smell the strong stench of ammonia from the street and hear a large number of dogs barking from far away, and obtained a search and seizure warrant.

The majority of the animals were housed in a metal structure on the property. They were found living in filthy cages, crates and kennels, up to three dogs in each. The stench of feces and urine was so strong that it caused investigators to gag and could be smelled from the road.

The owners acknowledged they were selling dogs.

The Texas puppy mill bill, known as the Large-Scale Commercial Dog and Cat Breeder Bill, 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. All large-scale animal breeders in Texas are required by law to be licensed and inspected on a regular basis.

The SPCA of Texas, Hunt County Constable Terry Jones, and the Hunt County Sheriff's Office ended up seizing 117 allegedly cruelly treated animals, including 93 adult dogs, 22 puppies, and two cats. Of those, 100 were kept in cages in the metal building, while 15 dogs and puppies and two cats were inside the residence.

SPCA of Texas took the animals to the Russell E. Dealey Animal Rescue Center. On October 2, they received official custody and have been in the SPCA's care. Some have since been adopted.