ARP, Texas (KETK) – Founder of local nonprofit K9’s & Heroes was arrested in Arp on Tuesday on a misdemeanor animal cruelty warrant after the Smith County Sheriff’s Office started an investigation in August.

According to Precinct 4 Constable Josh Joplin, his office was contacted by animal control for a welfare check they were doing for animals on the property. Three dogs, a parrot and a prairie dog were reportedly found at the home, but no animals were seized.

Kym McRee, 64 of Arp, was arrested at her home where in August multiple animals had been seized from the property after an investigation into the animal’s living conditions.

Photo showing two constable vehicles outside a white house. An animal control van can be seen at the side of the house.
Photo from McRee’s home where she was arrested on Tuesday.

“We’ve been dealing with her since 2021. We got a complaint from a veteran that had sent his or her service dog to her to be trained and when they got the dog back, it was emaciated and very fearful,” said Amber Greene, Smith County Animal Control.

According to an arrest warrant, multiple dogs that McRee had agreed to train were returned to their owners “with several scars on its face and head,” appearing to have lost a considerable amount of weight and were diagnosed with hookworms.

“The fact that she would take advantage of both animals and our veterans. To me that is about as low as it can go,” said Travis Gladhill, Executive Director of CampV.

McRee formerly worked in partnership with CampV helping train service dogs for veterans.

“Kym would take these dogs from the veterans upwards of 11 months, 12 months, over a year and no training was getting done. As a matter of fact, the training of the dog actually regressed,” said Gladhill.

One dog owner reportedly told authorities she requested photos and videos of her dog’s progress while the dog was in training but never received any.

“When she saw her dog, she had lost weight and was extremely anxious,” the warrant said. “She also noticed scarring on her dog’s elbows and knees.”

According to the warrant, officials with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office talked to her veterinarian who said in addition to scarring, the dog was diagnosed with hookworms and a bacterial infection.

The veterinarian said these diseases are a direct result of living conditions and come from standing water and feces.

The dog owner told the sheriff’s office that McRee’s property was “covered with dog feces inside and outside of the residence.”

The sheriff’s office searched McRee’s property on Aug. 15 and officials said they observed several dogs in conditions similar to the ones reported and said in the warrant they observed dogs on the property that appeared emaciated.

Officials said they were not able to search the entire home in August “in fear of bodily harm by the toxicity of large amounts of urine and fecal matter.”

McRee was released from the Smith County Jail on Wednesday after posting a $10,000 bond. Although she was released on bond, she will still have to go to court.

As a result of their experience with McRee, CampV said they developed their own service dog training program. They said some dogs that they believe were mistreated by McRee joined the program and are doing well.