Judge awards custody of more than 240 dogs
Denton County courts ruled in favor of the Humane Society of North Texas last week, awarding the group custody of more than 240 dogs seized from a northeast Denton County property Aug. 1.
Shelly Meeks, assistant shelter manager for the Humane Society, said she is glad the judge ruled in the society’s favor.
“Prosecutors had way too much evidence showing how bad of conditions the dogs were in,” Meeks said in an interview after the group was awarded custody.
Denton County Sheriff Will Travis said his office received a complaint about the treatment of the animals — mostly large breed dogs of various ages — and shortly after, a search warrant for the property in the 16000 block of Celina Road was obtained.
Meeks had described the conditions as horrifying, with urine and feces everywhere you stepped on the property — inside and out.
Four cats were taken into custody as well.
Food was set out for the animals, but investigators said many didn’t have any water.
Officials said some of the dogs were kept in tin-roof buildings where temperatures reached 140 degrees.
Animal Guardians of America, the shelter the animals were seized from, relinquished all rights before the judge Thursday in lieu of paying any fees, officials said.
“By doing so, we have to pay all costs associated with the 24-hour seizure, but it’s worth it to make sure the animals are properly taken care of,” Meeks said.
Humane Society officials said they are now gearing up to host one huge adoption day.
“Right now we are still just making sure all the animals are in their best shape before they are adopted out to their new homes,” Meeks said.
The animals are being housed in two of the Humane Society’s shelters, one in Forth Worth and one in Crowley, Meeks said.
“We could really use donations,” she said.
Denton County Sheriff’s Sgt. Larry Kish, an investigator on the case, said he thinks the court made a wise decision by awarding the animals to the Humane Society.
He said the conditions the dogs were in was horrendous and it was impossible for one person to properly care for that many animals.
“Animals deserve proper treatment and care just like a human,” Kish said.
A charge will be filed by the sheriff’s office to go before a grand jury for review. The charge, Kish said, will be for animal cruelty, non-livestock.
Kish said if the grand jury hands down a true bill of indictment after review, there could be numerous counts of cruelty added.
Calls to Animal Guardians of America were not returned. According to the group’s website, its goal was to rescue abandoned, neglected and abused animals.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.