The Humane Society of North Texas is "absolutely stuffed" with animals after taking custody Friday of 142 small dogs, three pygmy goats, three rabbits, two cats and over a dozen chickens that were seized from what authorities say was a puppy mill.
Denton County Animal Control officers seized the menagerie Dec. 6 from Sunny Acres Kennel in Aubrey.
Officials called it the county's most egregious case of animal neglect.
The animals were kept in deplorable conditions in a mobile home, two outbuildings and two outdoor enclosures, said Tammy Hawley, director of the Fort Worth-based animal rescue organization. "They were living in feces and urine, and they have tons of fight wounds," she said. "They were covered with parasites; they were truly overloaded with parasites. The conditions were terrible; it was severe neglect."
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Seven additional dogs have since died, she said.
Kennel operators Martin Wayne Cooper and Sharion Osborn Cooper were charged with cruelty to nonlivestock animals, a Class A misdemeanor, according to Denton County sheriff's records.
The couple relinquished the animals in a civil hearing Friday, and custody was awarded to the Humane Society, said Mike Reedy, public information officer for the Sheriff's Department.
"Even for us, we're stuffed; we're absolutely stuffed with all these animals," Hawley said. "We've been blessed with some volunteer help, but what these animals need are homes of their own."
Despite the horrific conditions, she said most of the dogs are ready to be adopted, though some will require additional veterinary care.
"The one ironic thing is that we seldom see so many nice dogs. These are very social and nice dogs. They have just been neglected," she said.
All the dogs are small breeds -- Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, dachshunds, Yorkies, Maltese mixes, poodle mixes and papillon mixes -- many of which are highly prized by pet store operators, she said. Some are puppies, but most are young adults.
"One little guy is blind and deaf. He's sweet but it's going to be challenging to find him a good home," she said.
The Humane Society doesn't normally encourage holiday pet adoptions without careful consideration, but in this case the organization doesn't have a choice, she said.
"Fortunately, these are among the most adoptable breeds. A large number of them will make good pets."
Steve Campbell, 817-390-7981