A call from a concerned neighbor prompted sheriff’s officials to raid a home near Waco, TX. They were stunned at what they saw, calling this the worst case of animal abuse in McLennan County. In total, 78 dogs were removed from the property and taken to the Waco Humane Society to be cared for.
Chief Deputy Randy Plemons said the dogs were being kept in “deplorable” conditions. Up to five dogs were crammed in cages meant for rabbits. In the cages, feces accumulated up to 6 inches high. Nearby was wet, moldy food, he said.
Reached at the home Monday evening, resident Barbara Mitchell, 58, who along with her husband is named in a seizure of animals affidavit filed Friday in McLennnan County district court, said she and her husband were paying several people to care for the dogs and clean out their cages and that the work wasn’t being done.
Mitchell said she and her husband suffer from severe health problems and were not able to check on the dogs. She said she knows that all of the dogs taken are healthy, although Plemons said that is not the case.
She said the couple hadn’t sold their animals in years, and the dogs kept breeding. She said she only wanted to keep certain older dogs.
“If you want to call us a puppy mill, that’s fine, but we’re not,” she said, tearing up. “We’ve been good, Christian people all our lives. We love kids and animals.”
While most neighbors declined comment, some said they feared for the safety of their children and pets because many of the dogs roamed the neighborhood. They also said the house always smelled of feces and decomposition.
Deputies found a 55-gallon barrel filled with decomposing dog carcasses and another full of dead goats.
Many of the lighter-colored dogs’ bellies were stained yellow from resting in urine and feces, he said.
On Friday a custody hearing is scheduled in Justice of the Peace Kristi DeCluitt’s court to determine what will happen to the dogs. There are more dogs, goats, as well as other animals that remain at the home. Those taken were in the most desperate need of care.
Texas legislators are currently considering a bill aimed at breeders who keep hundreds of cats and dogs in cramped, squalid surroundings.
The bill, filed by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, would require those with more than 11 unneutered female animals to submit to licensing, annual inspections, background checks and penalties as high as $5,000 per animal if they violate care standards.
Advocates say the legislation would prevent animal cruelty. Its opponents say the bill would impose an unnecessary strain on small breeders and could put them out of business.
The Waco Humane Society on Monday was asking for financial donations, small-breed dog food and volunteer dog-walkers to help care for the animals.
The shelter is in need of people to adopt or temporarily house other shelter dogs, to find out how to help call (254)754-1454.