Fort Worth area rescue groups and officials said Thursday they are devastated after learning dogs pulled from the city animal shelter were shot to death last month at the home of an Arkansas couple who said they were rescuing the animals.
Eight dogs with identification chip numbers from Chuck Silcox Animal Care & Control were found dead in Horatio, Ark., after residents complained of multiple dogs loose in the neighborhood.
“They were found all over the property,” Sevier County Sheriff’s deputy Brian Hankins said in a Thursday telephone interview. “Some were grouped together.”
Some dogs pulled from the Fort Worth shelter remained missing Thursday. The Arkansas couple had also pulled animals from shelters in The Colony and Texarkana to foster them until permanent homes could be found.
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Dogs from the Fort Worth shelter found alive in Horatio have been sent to various rescue groups in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, according to Ark-La-Tex Animal Rescue’s Facebook page.
“It’s been just horrible; we are still devastated by this,” Fort Worth spokeswoman Diane Covey said Thursday in a telephone interview. “We made a site visit in August, took photographs and everything was just fine.”
Brian Moore, 25, has been charged with eight counts of cruelty to animals. Moore told deputies he shot the dogs because they either had heartworms or posed a threat to his neighbors’ cows.
Moore and Whitney Smither, who had been approved to foster dogs for Ark-La-Tex Animal Rescue based in Texarkana, Texas, had been taking care of the animals. Smither, who was Moore’s girlfriend, is under investigation, but she has not been arrested or charged, Hankins said Thursday.
Deputies with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department discovered the dead animals Dec. 3, along with dogs that had heartworms, mange and other problems.
More than 100 dogs taken from shelter
The Texarkana rescue group pulled 161 dogs and cats from the city shelter from January until November, Covey said Thursday.
Covey said Fort Worth officials visited Smither’s home in Arkansas in August.
“Everything was in order,” she said. “There were bags of food.”
A Sevier County Sheriff’s Department’s incident report gave this account:
Smither was a member of the Texarkana rescue group, and traveled to Fort Worth to pull animals last year, planning to take them to foster homes until a permanent home could be found.
Melissa Carpenter of Urgent Animals of Fort Worth, which helps with animal adoptions, said Thursday that she kept in constant contact with Smither.
“She was young, but normal,” Carpenter said. “She seemed like she wanted to help animals.”
Smither left Horatio, Ark., on Nov. 18 and moved to Indiana to get away from Moore, according to the report. He followed her a few days later to try to work things out, according to the sheriff’s report.
Ark-La-Tex director Whitney Harrison told Hankins, the deputy, that she received reports of multiple stray dogs near Smither’s home on Nov. 29. Other residents reported seeing animal bones littering the yard.
Harrison could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Hankins was dispatched to an animal complaint on Dec. 3 to Bradley Chapel Road in Horatio, and he found the dead dogs.
Moore returned to Arkansas and was questioned on Dec. 6. He told deputies that many of the dogs already had heartworms, mange and other issues, while a few dogs were aggressive toward members of his family, other dogs and the neighbors’ livestock.
Moore said he wasn’t getting any help from Ark-La-Tex, so he assumed responsibility for the dogs.
He told deputies he left Arkansas on Nov. 27, leaving the dogs in the care of his grandmother. He said the dogs were never neglected, according to the sheriff’s report.
Moore was charged with animal cruelty Dec. 8. He is scheduled for a hearing March 14.
“It’s so hard to believe,” Carpenter said Thursday. “All we’ve wanted to do was to give them a better life.”