Police charge 2 for animal cruelty as Klein shelter investigation continues

Police charge 2 for animal cruelty as Klein shelter investigation continues
Source: KLTV Staff. Klein Animal Shelter remains closed.
Source: KLTV Staff. Klein Animal Shelter remains closed.
Source: KLTV Staff. Tyler mayor, Martin Heines.
Source: KLTV Staff. Tyler mayor, Martin Heines.
Jason Craft (Source: Jacksonville Police Department)
Jason Craft (Source: Jacksonville Police Department)

JACKSONVILLE, TX (KLTV) - Officials with the Cherokee County Jail say police charged two more people as an investigation into animal cruelty at Klein Animal Shelter in Jacksonville continues.

Jason Craft was charged with misdemeanor cruelty to non-livestock animals. His bond was set at $1,000. Ashley Ruhl was charged with felony cruelty to non-livestock animals - torture. Her bond was set at $2,500.

Both Craft and Ruhl posted bond and have been released.

On Jan. 16 Klein Animal Shelter Director, Angela Wallace, was arrested on charges of animal cruelty, illegal euthanasia, and assault of an employee.

As animal shelters come under closer scrutiny, some in East Texas are taking a closer look at the underlying problem.

Gayle Helms, director of Pets Fur People, has operated a shelter for 17 years. She no longer euthanizes animals or contracts with the city of Tyler, but she understands the challenges facing so-called "kill shelters."

"It gets out of hand so quick," said Helms. "One female dog and her offspring in six years can produce 46,000 puppies. It is truly an overpopulation issue that's not going to go away by itself."

Based on the last five months of invoices on record with the city of Tyler, Klein Animal Shelter received an average of 230 animals each month.

Kelly Heitkamp, an animal welfare attorney in Longview, said that the community as a whole bears the responsibility for the overpopulation.

"[Shelters are] things that most civilized societies want to sweep to the back of town," said Heitkamp. "People don't want to see it, out of sight is out of mind."

Martin Heines, city of Tyler mayor, said that the city is responsible for animal control, but true control requires more community accountability.

"We have an issue that we really need to have all the citizen's help with," said Heines. "To spayed and neuter all their animals."

Helms said that people expect shelters to clean up the problem, but the task requires more.

"We do this only because we love animals and we're trying to make a difference," said Helms. "But we can't do it alone, it takes the public, city leaders and officials, and it takes us all working together because it's almost an insurmountable problem."

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