About 200 dogs seized from Denton County property

Posted Thursday, Aug. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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An estimated 200 dogs were seized Thursday from property in rural northeast Denton County that, officials said, included a home that reeked of urine and feces.

Denton County sheriff’s deputies worked with staff from the Humane Society of North Texas to remove the dogs and a few cats from the property in the 16000 block of Celina Road, where at least one woman was living.

Deputies were investigating reports that the animals were under the control of a group called “Animal Guardians of America.”

The dogs were being taken to the Humane Society’s facility on East Lancaster Avenue in Fort Worth and a former boarding kennel that the organization uses on Farm Road 1187 in Johnson County.

About half the animals had been moved by late Thursday afternoon, Denton County Sheriff Will Travis said.

The sheriff estimated the property was about two acres with a few kennels on site. But, he said, there was “an enormous amount of dogs” inside the house, which was “like a hoarding situation.”

“It was the worst conditions I’ve ever seen as far as keeping animals,” Travis said. “There was the most despicable smell of feces and urine inside the house. You couldn’t even breathe.”

Peggy Brown, community outreach coordinator for the Humane Society of North Texas, said she was told the animals had been taken in by a “rescue group.” They were trying to keep the dogs from being euthanized at other shelters.

But, Brown said, “They just got in over their heads.”

Members of Animal Guardians of America could not be reached to comment Thursday evening.

An organization with a similar name has a website that lists a mailing address in Plano. Sheriff Travis said he did not know if the woman living on Celina Road was affiliated with that group.

The seizure started when a woman called the sheriff’s department. “She said she purchased a dog from that lady, but she took it to a vet and it had all kinds of health problems,” Travis said. “And that’s how it all got cranked up.”

Deputies got warrants to search the property and discovered the animals living in crowded conditions. He noted, however, that the animals appeared to have sufficient food and water.

Brown said the animals she saw Thursday did not appear to have severe health conditions.

“Most didn’t look that bad,” she said. “At least they’re not as bad as some that we’ve seen.”

There were very few purebreds among the dogs, she said. “There is a little bit of everything, a lot of mixed breeds, and several pit pulls,” she said.

Brown said veterinarians would be evaluating the animals, which is the first step in the process that can include filings for court orders to make the removals permanent.

After the Humane Society gets legal custody, the animals will be made available for adoption, she said.

Meanwhile, the Humane Society has 200 new mouths to feed on top of the estimated 500 already in its care. Brown said her organization happily accepts donations of dog food, bedding and cash.

Travis said deputies were still investigating Thursday and it was premature to predict whether any criminal charges would be filed.

“Our dealings today with this particular household was just to focus on animal health,” Travis said. “It’s possible this could be just be an animal hoarder.

“But you put that many dogs in one place without vaccinating them, you’re going to have problems with them.”

Bill Miller, 817-390-7684 Twitter: @Bill_MillerST

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