VAN ZANDT COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - East Texas authorities are calling it one of the worst cases of animal hoarding and cruelty they've ever seen. Early Sunday morning, Van Zandt County deputies, along with the SPCA of Texas, seized nearly 200 animals near a home located in the 100 Block of County Road 3221. The animals ranged from dogs, to goats to sheep and even turkeys.
Authorities arrested the man they say was responsible for the animals. Deputies say Richard Delfeld, 53 is also the caretaker of a disabled man who lives on the property. Right now, Delfeld has been charged with injury to a disabled person, but authorities say he could be charged with animal cruelty.
"We found deceased animals under tarps, underneath pieces of tin and lots of deceased animals in cages," said Van Zandt County Sheriff's Investigator Chuck Allen. Trash, dead animals and a run down mobile home with no running water, or electricity. Allen says that's the home of a disabled man in his late 60's and his caretaker.
"The first thing is number one, how can anyone live like this," said Allen. "Then you start walking around and seeing the various stages of deceased animals and live animals." Allen says he first discovered the horrific conditions Saturday when EMS went out to the home for a medical emergency.
"We realized real fast that we needed to contact the SPCA and adult protective services," said Allen. The disabled man, Allen says was taken to a local hospital. Then came the help of the SPCA of Texas.
"To me this is an animal hoarder, slash, for profit entity that's gone bad," said SPCA of Texas President James Bias. "Taking a look at it, at one time this was a pretty big operation. There are empty cages all over the place that housed rabbits and small dogs." One by one Sunday morning, SPCA employees rescued the animals including a litter of puppies born just days ago.
"When you deal with a herd situation, the strong survive," said Bias. "The strong will compete for food and the weak will be the first to perish." For health reasons, the sheriff's department also disposed of the dead animals Sunday. A job even these law enforcement officials who have seen it all say is hard to do.