HOPKINS COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Hundreds of cattle were seized Monday and their owner was arrested and charged with animal cruelty. The cattle were found and seized on land off of Highway 11 between commerce and Sulphur Springs. Due to the condition of the animals and the size of the land, the search may continue for days.
Hopkins County deputies have been working the case about a month, but they say complaints go back much farther than that. Deputy Toby Hume says it's a little overwhelming since the owner, George Bergin, has cattle on six sites with over a thousand acres.
"The land that they were on didn't have any kind of vegetation that would be any kind of protein to them. They have not been fed properly. They were getting fed, but not nearly enough for the amount of cattle that's on the land," Hume said.
The SPCA out of Dallas is assisting.
"They gave their opinion on the matter and they concur with me that we need to do something with these cattle," Hume said.
There have been several reports of malnourished cattle, and of them running loose.
"They're pushing through the fences trying to find some kind of vegetation to eat in the road ditch, because they don't have anything on the land that they're on," Hume stated.
It takes a big crew for this job.
"We've got about 35 people on the ground. We've got about ten here and the rest of them are on the properties catching cows," Hume said.
Catching them is difficult because the cows are skittish from limited human contact. Now they are tending to the livestock's immediate needs.
"We'll run them through a shoot and we'll vaccinate them and things like that. Whatever they need, whatever we need to do; pulling some blood for evidence," Hume explained.
Some cattle were too far gone to save.
"There's been three to my knowledge that we were out catching that had to be euthanized on site because they were just so weak they couldn't be loaded on a trailer. They were already down and dying anyway," Hume said.
Hume adds it will take days to find and move all the cattle. And they don't know if there are 200 or 500, but they will move everyone they can to an undisclosed location in Hopkins County.
Deputy Hume also says dead cattle have been found on the property. A hearing is scheduled December 13 to determine whether the animals have been cruelly treated.