TERRELL, Texas — Six dogs suspected of being used for dogfighting were seized from a Terrell property last Friday — the same property where 11 dogs were seized from in 2013 and their owner convicted of causing a dog to fight with another dog, a state-jail felony.
Today, the SPCA of Texas was awarded custody of the six dogs after a civil custody hearing before Kaufman County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Mike Smith. The owner was additionally ordered to pay $1,659.50 in restitution for the cost of investigation, expert witnesses, housing and care for the animals from the time of the seizure to the hearing in accordance with Texas Health and Safety Code.
On July 12, 2019, the Terrell Police Department's Narcotics Unit notified the SPCA of suspected animal cruelty at the property.
"Based on the known history of the property and information provided by the complainant, an SPCA of Texas Animal Cruelty Investigator was able to secure a seizure warrant the same day," read a statement from the SPCA. "After receiving the warrant, the SPCA of Texas and other agencies quickly removed the dogs."
The dogs, described as three German Shepherd mix dogs and three Pit Bull mix dogs, were found outside the property individually tethered by heavy metal tow chains.
"The dogs did not have access to food, water or shelter from the elements," stated the SPCA. "The dogs' living conditions are consistent with the housing of game dogs (fighting dogs)."
"The dogs are underweight and are suffering from various medical conditions, including bite wounds, cuts and scrapes, hair loss, long nails and scarring from previous injuries," continued the SPCA. "Many of the dogs have several wounds in various states of healing. One dog received veterinary treatment for bite wounds that were still bleeding at the time of seizure."
According to the SPCA, a treadmill was also found at the scene — in some cases, treadmills are used to condition dogs for fighting.
The case will be filed with the Kaufman County District Attorney's Office to determine whether criminal charges will be filed.
The seized dogs were taken to the SPCA of Texas' Russell E. Dealey Animal Rescue Center where they were evaluated and treated by medical staff. The SPCA will continue to provide rehabilitative care and individually evaluate the animals for adoption or placement on a case by case basis.
Additional information from the SPCA:
The act of dogfighting is punishable by a felony in all 50 states, but sentences for this charge vary from state to state. Dogfighting is defined as any situation in which one dog attacks or fights with another dog. In most cases, dogs used in dogfighting have been bred, trained and conditioned for the purpose of fighting another dog. Many dog fights result in devastating injuries, and even death in severe cases. Dogs being trained for dogfighting are subjected to cruel practices, including the use of heavy restraints, weights and modified treadmills for strength training, given drugs or supplements that may influence behavior and isolation to encourage aggression towards other dogs, and in some instances, people.
In the state of Texas, it is a state jail felony to cause a dog to fight with another dog, participate in the earnings of or operate a facility used for dog fighting or use or permit another to use any real-estate, building, room, tent, arena or other property for dogfighting. Other offenses, including owning or possessing dog-fighting equipment with the intent that the equipment be used to train a dog for dog fighting or furtherance of dog fighting, owning or training a dog with the intent that the dog be used in an exhibition of dog fighting or attending as a spectator at an exhibition of dog fighting are Class A Misdemeanors according the Texas Penal Code, Section 42.10.