A 56-year-old woman who was charged with animal cruelty after police found 111 emaciated dogs and cats at her mother’s Keller home in July has sued the city, alleging officials wrongfully entered the home and seized the animals, and then didn’t notify her of a forfeiture hearing.
Deborah K. Thompson filed the lawsuit in Tarrant County civil court last week.
In criminal court, she faces a charge of tampering with physical evidence.
Thompson, according to the lawsuit, rescues pets from shelters before they are euthanized and then “attempts to locate homes for the animals” through local pet shops.
After showing the animals at a pet shop in July, she left “numerous” animals at her mother’s house temporarily, the lawsuit said.
Keller police then “entered [Thompson’s mother’s] house without a warrant” and confiscated the animals, the lawsuit said.
The city then had a forfeiture hearing about the animals but only served a notice of the hearing to Thompson’s mother, the lawsuit said. At the hearing, the animals were awarded to the Humane Society of North Texas, which had planned to handle their adoptions, police said.
But the ruling should be voided, the lawsuit says, because Thompson received no notice of the hearing and “the initial seizure of all of the animals was wrongful.”
Thompson’s attorney, David Singleton, did not immediately return a request for comment. Keller city officials declined to comment.
Police were initially called to Thompson’s mother’s house on July 24, when a neighbor complained it was emitting a “horrible odor,” an arrest warrant affidavit said.
The smell was so bad that the neighbor couldn’t leave her house and “could hardly breathe” when she went outside, police said.
When officers arrived, they found about 15 kittens and puppies inside a minivan parked in the driveway. The animals were caged without food or water and they were “standing/laying in urine and feces” inside the van, the affidavit said.
Police then heard several cats whining from inside the garage, but Thompson — who was at the home — would not let them look inside.
After returning with a search warrant, the officers found several cats “that appeared to be very disoriented” in the back yard and “a large number of cats” inside the garage, where the temperature was about 100 degrees and metal animal crates were stacked “from floor to ceiling and wall to wall,” according to the affidavit.
Several of the cats in the back yard tried to run from the officers “but were too weak and sickly to jump the fence and escape,” the affidavit said.
Inside the home, “the smell of animal urine and feces was unbearable and scattered on the floor and walls,” according to the affidavit. The officers found an emaciated female dog and several puppies in a bathtub, where urine and feces were splattered on the walls, the affidavit said.
This report contains information from the Star-Telegram archives