At least 38 dogs entrusted to a Texas pit bull refuge whose mission was to provide them with care and find them new homes never came out, perishing instead from heat stroke, and being buried in a mass grave on the ranch.
Not too much news has been coming out of Spindletop Refuge in Willis, either.
Since authorities last week seized nearly 300 dogs, mostly pit bulls, and removed them from conditions generally described as cramped and unhealthy, there have been a lot more questions than answers.
On Friday, after hours of private negotiations, Spindletop owner Leah Purcell agreed to relinquish ownership of the 287 dogs, and through her attorney, she agreed to terms prohibiting her from future rescue and boarding in the county.
That court action was related strictly to the custody of the dogs. No charges have yet been filed against Purcell, and there has been no clear word that they will be.
Instead, there are a heap of questions unanswered — most of them from rescue groups around the country that sent animals to Spindletop, and now want to find out if they’re still alive, and reclaim them if they are.
On top of that, there’s another all-important one — what led what was once such a highly respected refuge to end up keeping dogs in conditions more like those you’d find at a puppy mill or the home of a hoarder?
Members of at least 50 rescue groups attended a Friday custody hearing in Conroe, but it was behind closed doors that an agreement was reached between prosecutors and Purcell. Except for 11 dogs that belonged to her mother, she surrendered the rest, and custody was awarded to the Humane Society of the United States and Montgomery County.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that a grand jury, also meeting behind closed doors, will decide whether Purcell will face criminal charges.
According to the Houston Press, several rescuers learned Friday then that the dogs they had surrendered to Spindletop — and were told had been adopted — died of heat stroke last summer.
“It was definitely not a sanctuary. Definitely not. Those dogs were left in a living hell,” said former Spindletop employee Brandon Louth, who says he’s the one who contacted authorities about conditions at the refuge.
Of the mass death he said, ”The dogs had suffocated, because the building was not ventilated. The electricity had gone off in the building, and basically I had to bury the dogs, put the dogs in sacks and dig a mass grave for them.”
Officials are still working to catalog all the rescued dogs, and were putting together a website where they’ll be posting photos of all of the dogs. The Animal Farm Foundation, which is helping coordinate the effort, said this week on its Facebook page that approximately 40 dogs have been claimed and returned to owners or places of origin, or will be in the next few days.
They advise those seeking dogs that were in Spindletop’s care to:
“If you have not already done so, please send extremely detailed information about dogs you wish to reclaim to firstname.lastname@example.org and to Constable Tim Holifield at email@example.com . Include a phone number and an email address. Put the word SPINDLETOP in the subject line. Animal Farm Foundation is coordinating the communication with owners and places of origin and schedules appointments for reclaiming dogs.”
At Friday’s court hearing, Montgomery County Constable Tim Holifield assured the crowd that the animals were being well cared for and that the Humane Society of the United States, which assisted in the Spindletop seizure, is committed to not euthanizing any of the dogs.
“It’s especially painful to see people and places that purport to help animals do precisely the opposite,” HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle wrote yesterday on his blog, A Humane Nation.
“We tell people shopping for a dog from a breeder to go see the parents of the dog, to make sure the place is not a puppy mill. With so many of these cases of neglect by those who say they are helping animals cropping up, it’s also wise to do background work or a site visit to any self-described rescue or sanctuary. There are so many good rescue groups and sanctuaries doing important work for animals every day, and every one of them would agree with me on that point … Calling yourself a sanctuary or a Samaritan isn’t enough. You have to act like one.”
It’s also important, we’d point out, to get to the bottom of what happened — what made such good intentions go astray — and for that information to be public. So far, that doesn’t seem to be happening with Spindletop, which only increases the chances that, sometime soon, somewhere else, we’ll be hearing the same story again.
(Photo: One of the rescued pit bulls in Texas; by Scott Dalton, via A Humane Nation)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 24th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal farm foundation, animals, catalog, custody, deaths, dogs, hsus, leah purcell, location, mass grave, montgomery county, news, ownership, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, private, public, refuge, rescue, sanctuary, seized, spindletop, surrender, texas, wayne pacelle, willis
About 300 dogs found living in cramped and unsanitary conditions were removed by authorities this week from Spindletop Refuge, the largest pit bull rescue organization in Texas.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s department on Tuesday served a search warrant at the refuge in Wills, removing dogs from five buildings, including one two-story structure that housed 80 dogs.
Almost all of the dogs were pit bulls, many of them sent there after being rescued by other organizations.
Teams from the Humane Society of the United States were assisting in relocating the dogs. Animal Farm Foundation said it also plans to assist in rehoming the dogs.
“We share HSUS’s goal of ensuring the best possible outcome for each of the dogs, and we’re grateful that HSUS stepped up to oversee a humane and just outcome for all of these dogs. Once the dogs have been triaged at an undisclosed safe location, Animal Farm Foundation will work with HSUS to individually evaluate each dog for rescue or adoption placement.”
The Montgomery County Police Reporter said the dogs were being taken to an undisclosed location to be evaluated by veterinarians.
No charges have been filed yet.
(Photo: Scott Engle / Mongtomery County Police Reporter)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 19th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 300 dogs, animal farm foundation, animal welfare, animals, cramped, crowded, dogs, feces, hsus, montgomery county, pets, pit bull, pitbull, refuge, removed, rescue, sanctuary, shelters, sheriff, spindletop, texas, unsanitary, urine, wills
When is an animal sanctuary not an animal sanctuary?
When state wildlife officials raid it and begin shooting its fenced-in denizens with shotguns.
Thousands of people have joined a popular campaign on Change.org demanding the North Carolina Wildlife Commission investigate the shooting last month of nine tame deer by its officers on a rehabilitation farm in North Carolina.
The officers shot and killed the deer on Wayne Kinley’s farm in Randolph County, saying they needed to conduct tests on the animals to see if they had Chronic Wasting Disease, an illness that has never been found in North Carolina.
State wildlife officials say the test can’t be conducted on live animals.
According to Fox 8 News, wildlife officials received an anonymous tip in June that Kinley was running a captive deer farm without a license.
They showed up at his farm on September 20, handed him a warrant and proceeded to shoot seven fallow deer and two white-tailed deer with 12-gauge shotguns.
Among those killed were a fawn and a deer that was blind in one eye.
“Deer were running everywhere,” Kinley said. “It was not a sight for anyone to see. They were judge and jury and convicted my deer today within a matter of 30-45 minutes.”
Wildlife officials say state law requires those running captive deer farms to have a license, and that Kinley doesn’t have one.
Kinley said he has been running the rehabilitation farm for 30 years, caring for peacocks, buffalo, kangaroos and, in the past seven years, deer.
“I didn’t know anything was wrong until today. They wouldn’t even give me a chance to plead my case to a court or anyone,” Kinley said.
Kinley received a citation, but said he plans to go to court and fight it.
The petition at Change.org was started by Millie Bowling, a North Carolina resident.
“I’m a great supporter of the wildlife commission,” said Bowling. ”But they are out of control shooting these animals.”
While the wildlife agents who stormed the property claimed to have a warrant, Kinley’s supporters argue that the warrant did not authorize agents to kill the animals, only to seize them.
“Where were our fourth amendment rights in all this?” asked Jo Henderson, a neighbor who initially raised one of the slain deer before placing it on the rehabilitation farm. “It just breaks my heart. There was no reason to kill those animals, and our rights are being trampled. We’re not going to stand for it.”
Henderson has been collecting petition signatures both online and offline and planned to deliver them — 7,000 as of yesterday — at a wildlife commission meeting today.
“People across the country have been moved by this campaign,” said Corinne Ball, Director of Organizing at Change.org. “This may have happened in a small community in North Carolina, but now folks from all over are paying attention.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 12th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, asheboro, campaign, captive, cause, change.org, chronic wasting disease, deer, farm, fenced, investigation, killed, massacre, nine, north carolina, penned, petition, pets, randolph county, refuge, sanctuary, shot, tame, tests, wayne kinley, wildlife, wildlife commission
Buying a wolf hybrid has become illegal in Maine, but it’s going to take a while for them to disappear from the state, if they do at all.
The law requires current owners to have the animals neutered and prohibits the purchase of dog-wolf mixes, except by those with special wildlife-in-captivity permits.
The law was passed after concerns arose about a wolf hybrid refuge in Bristol.
“Wolf hybrids are not pets,” said Sen. David Trahan, the bill’s sponsor. “Would people consider bringing a coyote or mountain lion into their home crossed with another cat or another dog?”
Jim Doughty, who operates the Wolf Ledge Refuge in Bristol, says the law is misguided and unfairly brands the animals.
“Any animal, no matter whether it’s a pure wolf or a Chihuahua or a pug or anything else, depends on the person and how they raise it,” he said. “It’s the same thing with your kids. If you’re abusive toward your kids, they’re not going to be so good. If you work with them, they’ll be great.”
According to an Associated Press article, forty states forbid the ownership, breeding and importation of wolf dogs, while others impose some form of regulation upon ownership.
The law doesn’t prevent Doughty from continuing to take in wolf hybrids from people who no longer want them.
Last month, one of Doughty’s animals, Luna, escaped and attacked a chicken next door.
Doughty doesn’t consider wolf hybrids to be dangerous, but said he wouldn’t recommend them for families with small children. He doesn’t think the law will eliminate wolf dogs from Maine.
“Owners are going to list it as another dog,” he said. “The vet might know it and everybody else might know it, but nobody’s going to say a word.”
(Photo: Jim Doughty and a wolf hybrid named Koda; by Kate Collins / Bangor Daily News)
Posted by jwoestendiek October 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ban, bristol, david trahan, dog, dogs, hybrids, illegal, jim doughty, law, maine, ownership, pets, refuge, wolf, wolf dog, wolf hybrids, wolf ledge refuge, wolves
Here’s a wonderful report by Steve Hartman of CBS News about Tarra, an elephant, and Bella, a dog, and the amazing bond that has developed between them at The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn.
Sanctuary co-founder Carol Buckley says it’s common for elephants arriving at the sanctuary to pick another elephant to hang out with. But in this case Tarra picked Bella, or vice versa.
Buckley spent more than 20 years performing with her elephant, Tarra, in zoos and circuses before deciding the animals deserved a different life and opening the sanctuary. Bella is one of about a dozen stray dogs they’ve taken in.
For years, Tarra and Bella have played together and eaten together, and when Bella suffered a spinal cord injury a few months ago (the piece doesn’t explain how, but hopefully Tarra wasn’t involved), Tarra — despite having 2,700 acres to roam, stood vigil outside the sanctuary office, where Bella was recuperating.
Bella’s better now, and she and Tarra remain inseparable, Hartman reports.
(For another video about Tarra and Bella, click here.)
(To see another amazing elephant video, click here.)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 3rd, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, carol buckley, cbs, cbs news, dog, dogs, elephant, elephant sanctuary, friendship, hohenwald, news report, odd couple, refuge, sanctuary, steve hartman, tennessee, video