Paws Gives Up Dogs To SPCA

The director of an animal shelter accused of animal abuse was back in court Wednesday.

The SPCA had requested custody of the animals at the PAWS Across the Planet shelter. In the hearing, Director Julia McMurrey agreed. The SPCA was relieved by the outcome of the hearing,  because now they say, they can get to work helping the dogs back to health, and finding permanant homes for as many as possible.

While the SPCA was happy with the development, supporters of PAWS and McMurrey are not. It was standing room only in Judge James Cowarts Court. Dozens of people pinned photos of pets to their clothing in a show of support for PAWS. But the badges didn't stop the court from giving the SPCA controll of all of the dog at the shelter.

"I'm disapointed," says former PAWS volunteer, Jeanne Parker. "But, the attorneys are the one, and Julia had to make a decision. They're the ones that know what's best for the animals."

In addition to disapointment, McMurrey's supporters are angry. Parker says the SPCA itself is to blame for the poor health conditions discovered last week. "If the SPCA wanted to help this organization, they would help her get medication before it got in this condition. They could have been out there to offer to help instead of being ready to crucify her and make her look like she's such a bad person."

Now the SPCA is responsible not only for making sure the dogs get better but that they also get a home. "I can absolutely start tonight," says SPCA Investigator Dave Garcia. "We can do a pre-evaluation tonight. Set aside some that we feel can be adopted immediately. The assment team can come in tomorrow morning. Start with the shots and get everything going. The animals then can be transported back to Dallas."

For McMurrey, the court battles are not finished. The county is still expected to file criminal charges, and a restitution hearing is scheduled for November.

The SPCA has until midnight Sunday to remove all of the dogs from the PAWS shelter. Most will go to an adoption facility in Dallas. But some will stay in East Texas. Two local veterinarians have already offered their services and clinics as foster homes for the animals. The SPCA says the rescue effort is costing them ten dollars per dog per day.

Stephen Parr, reporting.