More than 200 dogs are being evaluated after they were seized by the Denton County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the Humane Society of North Texas.
Sheriff Will Travis said investigators are unsure whether it is an abuse or neglect case at this time, but they were concerned about the living conditions of the animals, which were in chain-link kennels topped with tin roofing. All of the dogs were well enough to walk, and were individually evaluated by a Humane Society of North Texas veterinarian at a facility in Johnson County, he said.
“They’ve got tons of them that have a considerable amount of health issues,” Travis said. “Vets are evaluating each animal; then we will make a determination with the district attorney whether to process the case criminally.”
Several of the animals had varying health issues, including noticeable coughs, Travis said. His greatest concern is the safety of the animals in such living conditions, he said.
The animals were seized from a property in the 1600 block of Celina Road in Denton County after the department received a citizen complaint a few days ago. Since then, Travis said his office has been working with the humane society to investigate the case.
The facility is affiliated with Animal Guardians of America, a no-kill animal rescue organization, but Travis said his office is investigating the relationship. There was food everywhere and there were countless dogs at the property, Travis said.
The humane society is transporting the dogs, 70 at a time, to the Johnson County facility, and has been a helpful partner on the case, Travis said.
Peggy Brown of the Humane Society of North Texas said the dogs will be kept at its main center in Fort Worth and at a satellite facility in Johnson County.
A few years ago, such large seizures were a rarity, Brown said, only one or two a year in North Texas.
“But I think we did 10 last year, 10 cruelty cases involving rescue groups, and about that many this year,” she said. “This is not active cruelty, usually. They aren’t beating the dogs. It’s neglect.”
Brown attributed the rise in seizures to municipal budget cuts and “a big push for no-kill in animal control.”
“People think any fate is better than putting an animal down. They have soft hearts and think, ‘I have to save this one.’ They’re well meaning and caring people,” she said. “But they don’t have the resources.”
The humane society often shelters 200 dogs or more, “but we have a staff of 50 to help care for them,” Brown said. “One or two people can’t do it.”
Travis said in the coming days the office will release more specific information about the dogs and their conditions, as well as whether authorities will press charges.
The Dallas Morning News contributed to this report.
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.