Courts Award SPCA of Texas Custody of Animals in Two Separate Hearings Today

In two separate hearings today, the SPCA of Texas was awarded custody of 204 animals rescued from a Marshall, TX property last Friday, January 25, and 12 pit bulls rescued from a dog fight in Jefferson, TX on Sunday, January 27.

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Regarding the 204 animals rescued from the Marshall, TX property last Friday under the authority of the Harrison County Sheriff's Department for neglect, Harrison County J.P. Nancy George awarded custody of all the animals to the SPCA of Texas and ordered the property owners, the Dennises, to pay restitution in the amount of $8,160 to the SPCA of Texas.

Additionally, for the first time in the SPCA of Texas' experience, the judge ordered that for the next calendar year, the Dennises may not own animals, and only after that time period may they petition the court to again do so. If the court decides that the Dennises may at that time own pets, there will be a specific limit set on how many pets the Dennises may own.

Also, the SPCA of Texas has information that the Game Warden will be issuing the Dennises a citation (Class C Misdemeanor) for the posession of the Coatimundi, a threatened species. At the court's stipulation, the SPCA of Texas will transfer the Coatimundi to the Wild Animal Orphanage sanctuary in San Antonio, TX.

Other animals may be transferred to sanctuaries as befits their species. All other animals will be evaluated, spayed and neutered and made available for adoption on a case by case basis.

The animals include: 68 Dogs, 26 Hissing Cockroaches, 16 Rabbits, 15 Guinea Pigs, 13 Gerbils, 12 Mice, 12 Rats, 7 Doves, 7 Horses, 4 Hamsters, 3 Chickens, 3 Parakeets, 2 Bearded Dragons, 2 Dwarf Hamsters, 2 Hedgehogs, 2 Cockatiels, 2 goats, one Lovebird, one African Grey Parrot, one Sheep, one Pot-Bellied Pig, one Opossum, one Frog, one Pink Toe Tarantula, one Millipede and one White Nose Coatimundi.

Regarding the 12 dogs rescued from the Jefferson, TX property last Sunday under the authority of the Marion County Sheriff's Department, Marion County J.P. Lex Jones awarded custody of all the dogs to the SPCA of Texas and ordered the property owner, Tyrone Lester, pay $740 restitution to the SPCA of Texas. The dogs will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Acting on an anonymous tip, the Marion County Sheriff's Department raided a dog fight in progress at a property near Jefferson, TX last Sunday. The Sheriff's Department called on the SPCA of Texas to care for the dogs until the custody hearing this morning.

Last Sunday, as dog fight attendees scattered into the woods and deputies began making arrests, the gruesome scene unfolded to SPCA of Texas Rescue & Investigations team members as they readied the 12 dogs for transport. Blood splattered the fighting pit and the remains of an unknown number of dead dogs littered the property. Several individuals, including the property owner, were arrested and face various felony charges. $10,000 in cash was also confiscated.

Cathryn Khalil, reporting.