Fort Worth

January 17, 2014

Animals seized from squalid conditions in northwest Parker County

The property in the 500 block of Hide Away Lane appears to have been a “puppy mill,” said officials for the Humane Society of North Texas. More than 100 animals disappeared overnight after Parker County deputies checked out a tip.

Intestinal parasites, untreated wounds, malnourishment and dehydration were among the afflictions found this week in more than two dozen dogs and other animals seized in northwest Parker County.

The property where they were found, in the 500 block of Hide Away Lane in the Garner-Cool area, appeared to have been a “puppy mill,” staff members at the Humane Society of North Texas said.

“This is not the worst I’ve ever seen, but it’s probably in the top 10,” said Tammy Roberts, the humane society’s interim director and a 13-year animal rescue veteran.

“There are a lot of upper-respiratory issues and horrific parasites, internal and external,” Roberts said. “Many dogs definitely are pregnant, but they’re senior dogs and should not be pregnant.”

Parker County animal control officials got a tip about the property Monday, sheriff’s Deputy Danie Huffman said.

The tipster reported that about 150 animals were kept in squalid conditions, Roberts said, and animal control officers checked the property before calling in the humane society.

But when humane society workers got there Tuesday, they found only 35 animals — 29 dogs, a cat, three rats and two rabbits.

“Animals were removed by large amounts overnight,” Roberts said. “I was obviously frustrated these folks did that. Now we’re trying to locate those animals for their welfare.

“The ones we seized were in horrific conditions healthwise, so I’m guessing those other animals were, too.”

The humane society is caring for the animals at its shelter on East Lancaster Avenue in Fort Worth.

Public records show that the property, near the northeast shore of Lake Mineral Wells, is the site of a business called “R and T’s Kennels,” operated by Roger and Tina Williams. They could not be reached for comment Friday.

All the dogs are infected with internal parasites, and feces was found throughout the property, even in a house where people lived.

Roberts said an English bulldog appears to have been bred repeatedly and suffers from “serious hip and joint issues.” She can barely stand, Roberts said.

The shelter gets many requests for English bulldogs, but this one is in such poor shape that she probably won’t be available for adoption if the humane society wins custody of her, Roberts said.

Many of the dogs are so old that cataracts have formed a milky film over their eyes. A miniature poodle is missing a leg. A German shepherd has lost part of an ear.

Dr. Cynthia Jones, a veterinarian who works with the humane society, said it is unhealthy to constantly breed older dogs — a frequent complaint about “puppy mills.”

“All their energy is going to the puppies during gestation or when they’re producing milk to nurse them,” Jones said. “They have very little time to recover before they’re bred again.”

A lot of stress is placed on bones, muscles and organs, Jones said.

She recommends that dogs not be bred before age 2 and says they should have at least 1 1/2 to two years between litters. And, she said, a dog should whelp no more than three litters in her lifetime.

Sick male dogs were also found at the property, Jones said.

A smoky-gray Great Dane appears fit until you notice the open wounds around his swollen lower legs.

“These are ulcerated lesions from bone cancer,” Jones said.

Even the rats are sick. They have “wet tail,” a condition that develops when they’re kept in dirty cages and drag their tails through their own waste, causing infections, officials said.

The shelter’s population is expected to grow when the dogs start whelping their puppies. Roberts said the shelter is always grateful for donations of pet food, blankets and money because more animals are always arriving.

Also this week, seven horses, four donkeys and other animals, including poultry and a horse trailer holding six feral hogs, were seized by Mansfield animal control officers.

The malnourished horses and poultry are at the humane society.

Officer Thad Penkala, a Mansfield police spokesman, confirmed Friday that the animals were seized but declined to release more information because the investigation is ongoing.

Humane society officials hope that most of the animals can be nursed back to health and placed for adoption. But officials will have to go before a judge to win custody. Even then, there could be more time in court if the owners appeal.

The process could last three weeks or more, Roberts said.

“As soon as we are ready, we can make an adoption event to give some of these animals new homes,” she said.

“But the internal parasites are so severe with this group, they’ll probably need extra therapy, even after adoption.”

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