88 Animals Taken In Raid
Moderator Join Date: Apr 2004
88 Animals Taken In Raid
SPCA GIVEN CUSTODY OF
ANIMALS TAKEN IN RAID
By: MARK COLLETTE, Staff Writer July 09, 2004
CANTON - A Van Zandt County judge has ordered a 49-year-old woman to forfeit custody of 88 animals after authorities said many of them were deprived of food and water and held in cages with feces paw-deep.
Sheriff's Lt. Jacqualyn Buccafurno said charges of animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor, are expected to be filed.
After a civil trial that lasted nearly five hours and involved testimony from 13 witnesses, Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Ronnie Daniell said he believed the defendant had good intentions, wanting to rescue the animals, but did not have the time and financial means to properly care for them.
He ordered the 37 dogs, two wolf-dog hybrids, 26 cats, 22 sheep and one rabbit to be turned over to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas, and ordered the woman to pay $880 per day for their care.
The animals were confiscated July 1 from a property off Texas Highway 64 east of Canton, taken by sheriff's officials and the SPCA. They are now at an SPCA facility in McKinney.
Lt. Buccafurno testified that a trailer holding cats on the property contained "days and days and days of cat feces and cat urine - there was just an awful smell."
Some of the animals were emaciated and some fought each other over food, officials testified.
Defense attorney John Sickel showed evidence that his client had taken animals to a veterinarian, had purchased food and medicine for them, and had attempted to care for them. But her $1,600-a-month job working long hours at Wal-Mart didn't leave her the time or money for proper care, a prosecutor argued.
Asked by assistant district attorney Brock Duke whether she thought 88 animals were too many to care for given her resources, the woman said, "There's always room for one more hungry animal."
Dave Garcia, SPCA vice president of operations, said people who hoard animals often suffer from an obsessive-compulsive mental disorder.
"These individuals need to get counseling," he said.
The Dallas-based nonprofit handles an animal hoarding case about once a month, Garcia said.
Van Zandt County officials are pursuing criminal charges alleging animal cruelty in at least one other case. They said part of the problem stems from the regular dumping of unwanted animals in the area each month after First Monday Trade Days.
Local authorities have called for East Texas counties to band together and create an SPCA shelter in the area.
Staff writers Kristi Flippin and Angela Grant contributed to this report.
Mark Collette covers Southern Smith and Upshur counties. He can be reached at 903.596.6303. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org