WINONA, Texas (KETK) – The SPCA of East Texas and a Smith County constable have been receiving backlash after they arrested two and seized 38 dogs from a property that started as an animal rescue in Winona.
The SPCA of East Texas and Constable Josh Joplin, Precinct 4 were originally brought in to investigate eight dogs at the Dog Days Ranch and Rescue.
When they arrived some of the animals were covered in fleas, some also had puncture wounds and heartworms, according to officials.
On Wednesday night, the SPCA of East Texas posted a statement on Facebook. Since that post, they had been on the receiving end of what they say are derogatory and inflammatory rumors surrounding the removal of the dogs.
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“Whatever decisions we made, understand that they were made with a lot of thought put into it,” said Joplin. “They were done with a lot of investigation and a lot of time taken out to make sure we were going through the proper channels to make this right.”
With some people claiming the seizure was unwarranted, in the post, the SPCA of East Texas said the conditions at the Dog Days Ranch and Rescue were dangerous and deplorable.
“Numerous kennels around the area had sheet metal for a roof that had caved in. Most of the dogs who did have water, which was very few, the water was very green and not drinkable,” said Joplin.
Joplin also added that there was dog food in certain bowls that were molded, very old and there was dog food that did not look fresh at all.
SPCA of East Texas reported in a Facebook post that the dogs were in various stages of medical neglect ranging from severely wounded, starvation, limping, infections, and swelling of feet and limbs.
The SPCA of East Texas also added that according to the owner the animals were fed every three days.
The 38 dogs were rescued by the SPCA of East Texas, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Smith County Animal Control were taken to Maryland.
“We took eight specific dogs that were in need of veterinary care in an immediate sense,” said Joplin.
The eight dogs were rescued days before and were taken to a vet to be cared for.
“I would want the community to know that this is not a unique situation. I can tell you about half a dozen more right now in Smith County or surrounding counties where we have this situation,” said Deborah Dobbs, SPCA of East Texas President.
Unfortunately, one dog did not make it.
Tina Loper, 53, and Eric Morris, 55, were charged with eight counts of cruelty to non-livestock animals with two of those charges being felonies due to the death of one dog and the severity of another dog’s condition Loper was arrested on Wednesday on a collective bond of $100,000. Morris was arrested and released on Friday, also on a collective bond of $100,000.
According to the arrest warrant, during Joplin’s visit, Loper did admit to the mistakes and said she was told to get her numbers down, but did not listen.
The SPCA of East Texas said the owners were not “ignorant” of proper care and that one of the owners was a former veterinary assistant.