EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story stated that the Humane Society of East Texas was involved in this case. This has since been corrected to say the Humane Society of the United States is actually the agency involved.
WINONA, Texas (KETK) – What started as an attempt to create a rescue for dogs turned into a hoarding situation in East Texas on Friday, with 38 dogs being taken from a Winona property.
The dogs were taken by the SPCA of East Texas, Smith County Animal Control and the Humane Society of the United States.
“From a woman who had initially started a rescue operation several years ago taking dogs in and trying to do the right thing by them, we feel certain,” said Deborah Dobbs, President SPCA of East Texas.
Dobbs said that this situation is not unique.
“I can tell you about half a dozen more right now in Smith County or surrounding counties where we have this situation,” Dobbs said.
At one time, 124 dogs lived in kennels on the property. The SPCA of East Texas was alerted about eight dogs originally, but once they got there, they realized an investigation needed to happen for dozens of dogs.
Constable Josh Joplin from Precinct 4 was brought in to look into the case. The property owner had 52 dogs when Joplin arrived. She said she tried to start a rescue center for the dogs, but it got out of control and she didn’t know what to do.
“If you’re not going to take care of your animals, if you’re going to have dogs, cats or horses or any animal of that nature, that is in any kind of medical issue or they are having some kind of malnourishment problem, or you just don’t want to take care of your animals– we are not going to have that in this county,” Joplin said. “If you don’t want to take care of your animals, don’t have one.”
Joplin obtained a warrant for seizure of the dogs. The SPCA of East Texas was asked to provide emergency care. Once they’re cleared, the Humane Society of the United States will take them to Maryland and is covering their transport, vet and more costs.
Joplin is continuing his investigation into the situation and says he’ll have more information Monday outlining changes.