200 animals housed on the Sunset Acres property
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Scores of neglected animals rescued
(Friday, July 09, 2004
A Hood County animal control officer called it the worst case of animal neglect she has ever seen. Numerous animals were confined to cages so crowded they were stepping on each other. Containers that should have held water for the animals were either empty or the water was covered with slime or contained dead frogs floating on the surface. One dog’s eyes were almost shut tight with crusted drainage.
“I’ve worked for Hood County Animal Control for three years and never saw so many animals in such deplorable and neglected condition,” said Kim Fojtasek who has been working with animals for nine years.
A man and woman were breeding and selling the animals at their residence on Sunset Acres Court, west of Granbury off U.S. Highway 377. They were charged with animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor, by judge Carol Wilson Thursday. The couple was placed under $1,000 bonds.
Wednesday's discovery of more than 200 animals housed on the Sunset Acres property—dogs, cats, birds, goats and a llama—came after Fojtasek received a complaint from a woman who claimed she purchased a Chihuahua puppy from one of the defendants. The puppy died several days later after being treated by a Glen Rose veterinarian for a number of infections.
Deputy sheriff Gay Johnson, accompanied by two animal control officers, investigated the property and reported “a strong smell of urine and feces.” She observed that a number of animals appeared to be in distress and crowded into small cages.
After completing her investigation, Johnson and the animal control officers went to judge Wilson’s office to ask for a warrant to allow them to seize the animals.
The officers, accompanied by a member of the Hood County Health Department, constable Roy Addington and a local veterinarian, returned to the property to remove the animals.
The veterinarian, in a letter to judge Wilson, described what she found at the scene.
“Dogs and cats of multiple breeds and ages were confined to filthy, small cages without food, water or ventilation,” said the doctor.
She noted some dogs were so ill they could not rise up and that birds confined to cages were walking over dead birds.
Johnson said the woman was cooperative, but didn’t want the officers to remove the animals. The woman told the deputy she and her husband sold the animals.
“We noted a cage of three small bulldog pups,” said Johnson. “She (the woman) stated they were about five weeks old, and they were ready to sell.”
Johnson said the woman told her the puppies could bring from $1,000 to $1,800 each.
Fojtasek said officers worked until about 7 p.m. Wednesday removing the animals.
“About 23 dogs were picked up by the North Texas Humane Society, and we took the others to the animal shelter," said Fojtasek. "Some of the animals were on the loose, and we couldn’t catch them. But judge Wilson ordered us to go back to the property this evening (Thursday) to get the rest and bring them to the shelter. “Some people think animals don’t have emotions or feelings, but let me tell you, those animals showed how happy they were to have fresh water and fresh air.”
Stan Weinberg can be reached at (817) 573-7066, ext. 247 or e-mail Cowpoke@hcnews.com.
Below: Animal control officer
Kim Fojtasek with
two rescued dogs