The Humane Society of North Texas received custody of more than 100 animals Friday during an emotional court proceeding in Denton County Precinct 5 where the previous owners, a couple accused of operating a substandard puppy mill out of their home near Aubrey, relinquished their rights to every animal. Justice of the Peace Mike Bateman presided over the civil hearing.
The animals were discovered by Denton County Animal Control Deputy Kirk Sissney, who received a complaint on December 6th about a puppy mill located in the county.
Upon arriving at the property the same day, Deputy Sissney noted an overwhelming stench of urine and feces.
In the next few hours, immediate steps were taken to rescue the animals from what has been described as the single most egregious case of animal neglect ever seen in Denton County.
All the animals-149 small breed dogs, three pygmy goats, three rabbits, two cats, and over a dozen chickens were removed from a mobile home, two outbuildings, and two outdoor enclosures.
The Humane Society of North Texas’ Animal Rescue Team worked together with Denton County Sheriff’s Deputies to locate and gather every animal safely. The animals were then transported to HSNT’s main facility in Fort Worth where they received immediate veterinary care.
Cynthia Jones, staff veterinarian for HSNT examined every animal and noted severe neglect; malnutrition, extensive hair loss, third degree pressure sores, eye and ear infections, and head to toe flea infestation on nearly every dog and puppy examined.
One adult dog was found to be in the late stages of acute liver failure. Several puppies also tested positive for parvovirus, a deadly but preventable canine disease. Three rabbits were found to have extremely advanced ear mite infections with subsequent secondary infections and open, untreated sores.
“Even after over 20 years in the animal welfare business, I was overwhelmed at the complete despair I saw in each of these animal’s eyes,” said Tammy Hawley, Director of Operations for the HSNT. “We are grateful to the Denton County Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office for their quick action. Because of that, we can now look forward to getting the animals into loving homes where they will once again find hope and joy.”
All of the dogs are small breeds, many of the breeds highly prized by pet store operators. While some individual animals will require additional veterinary care, HSNT’s veterinary team says that nearly all of the animals are ready for loving homes and TLC.
Interested adopters can call one of HSNT’s three adoption centers; Main location on East Lancaster in Ft. Worth at 817-332-4768 ext. 102, Southwest Adoption Center on Hulen at 817-423-3647 or the Keller Welcome Home Adoption Center at 817-431-1170. Adopters are also needed for rabbits, goats, and chickens.
“The Sheriff’s Office has worked closely with the Humane Society in the past, most notably with the case of 76 starved Arabian horses near Pilot Point two years ago” said Tom Reedy, spokesman for the Denton County Sheriff’s Office. “Our continued cooperation has enabled us to act quickly in cases where swift action is critical to saving the lives of innocent animals.”
Assistant Denton County District Attorney Lara Tomlin says criminal charges against the couple are pending.