46 animals found 'with no food or water' seized from Rusk County - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

46 animals found 'with no food or water' seized from Rusk County property

Source: KLTV Source: KLTV
Source: SPCA Source: SPCA
Source: SPCA Source: SPCA
RUSK COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

Forty-six animals - all victims of alleged abuse - were seized Tuesday in Rusk County according to the sheriff's office, and the owner is seeking to regain custody.

The animals were found at a residence on Highway 64 in Henderson.

The SPCA of Texas and the Rusk County Sheriff's Office seized the animals after determining that it was "in the animals' best interest" to remove them. In all, 28 dogs, nine kittens, six puppies, two cats and one red-eared slider turtle were removed from the property.

GRAPHIC PHOTOS: Rusk County animal seizure

According to Rusk County Sheriff Jeff Price, "Some of the animals had water, some didn't... I'm not saying she didn't feed them, but there was no evidence of food being there at the time that we were there".

A custody hearing

Dead animals were found on the property, some whose remains were too decomposed to move, the SPCA notes. The animals were found chained to metal bars in the ground, trees, and other objects, without access to food or water, the SPCA says.

All of the animals were transported to the SPCA of Texas' Animal Rescue Center, Empowered by PetSmart Charities Emergency Relief in Dallas.

According to Maura Davies with the SPCA of Texas, "We did notice that they had various health issues. Those included malnourishment, some were very, very skinny, hair loss, long nails, eye discharge, flea infestation, and several of the dogs, actually most of the dogs, their necks had been rubbed raw because they were chained".

The SPCA says the animals will be examined by medical staff and cared for until a custody hearing on July 6 in Henderson. Justice of the Peace, Pct. 4, the Honorable Darlene Childress will preside over the case.

Launching an investigation

The investigation was opened on June 23 when a Rusk County Sheriff's Office deputy responded to the property in regards to a welfare complaint.

According to a warrant for seizure of animals, filed in Rusk County by a deputy, the owner told the deputy that the dogs were "taken care of" and that "there was no problem with the dogs."

The deputy asked if he could search the property and was given permission.

"(The deputy) asked (the owner) if there were any dead animals on her property, she advised that there was a few, and that she just has not taken them off yet," the document reads. "(The deputy) asked where the animals were and she advised there was one in a box on the trash pile, another wrapped up in a sheet on the ground, then there was one in a bag by the door of the trailer."

The owner told the deputy that one dog died of cancer and the others died from parvo. When asked how she knew that, the owner told the deputy that she had a puppy put down at the vet because it tested positive for parvo.

Poor conditions

According to the document, the owner then showed the deputy, who was wearing a body camera, around the property. Dogs were found with no food or water and one dog was chained, but the chain was tangled up so that he could not reach water. Trash and used litter was also strewn about near where the cats were kept in a travel trailer.

"One dog and all of the cats were found living in the RV-type living quarters on the property, cruelly confined, forced to live in their own feces and debris, without access to appropriate food or water," the SPCA said in a statement posted to their website. "The turtle was found in a small blue plastic pool outside the residence without access to appropriate food or water. "

The deputy then told the owner there would be a report taken for animal cruelty and that she needed to clean the the animals' living areas and to provide them with food. The deputy said he would return on June 26 for another check.

"The animals appear to have varying health issues, including malnourishment, hair loss, long nails, eye discharge and flea infestation. One dog had an extremely large growth on one leg. The chains used to restrain the dogs had rubbed the dogs' necks raw and investigators had to use bolt cutters to free the dogs," the SPCA release stated.

According to the SPCA, the sheriff's office called the organization on June 26. The organization's Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit agreed with the sheriff's office that it was in the animals' best interest to remove them. The Rusk County Sheriff's Office obtained the warrant on Monday evening and served the warrant this morning.

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