SPCA given custody of cats and fish rescued last week in Hopkins County

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Oct 16, 2007 - The owner of dozens of cats and fish removed a week ago from a rural Sulphur Springs residence surrendered the animals to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals during a hearing Monday.

Staff Photo by Joseph Elerson

SPCA workers brought dozens of cat carriers to the rescue site on CR 2450 last week.

The animals were removed last Tuesday from a County Road 2450 residence due to the living conditions on the property. At least three cats were found dead, according to Maura Davies, senior director of communications for the Dallas SPCA office.

The resident was assessed a $3,080 fine, which includes a $10 a day fee for boarding the cats during their 7-day quarantine to monitor their health. No other action is being taken against the cat and fish owner, as testimony and evidence show she was actively trying to care for the animals.

An autopsy of one of three dead cats found the animal died due to malnourishment, Hopkins County Sheriff’s Lt. Henry Turner said Monday afternoon. 

The resident testified Monday that she was doing her best, but just couldn’t keep up with the cats, Turner said.

"She had some pawn tickets which presented, showing she’d sold some stuff to try to keep up,” Turner said. "There were just too many for her to handle.”

Officers also found at least one bag of cat food on the premises the day the animals were removed by the SPCA.

The investigation began Oct. 8 with a complaint of a large number of animals that appeared to have been abandoned. Deputies found at least 30 cats on the property and contacted the SPCA office in Dallas. The animal rescue group sent a crew to Hopkins County, who found the cats to be “living in filthy, feces and urine-infested conditions,” according to Maura Davies, senior director of communications for the Dallas SPCA office.

The next day, a warrant was granted for the animals to be seized for their protection. SPCA removed 44 cats from the property. Several large, filthy fish tanks were also found, and more than 30 fish were taken into custody.

�The animals were taken to the Dallas SPCA office, located at at 362 S. Industrial Blvd. All 44 cats are reported to be doing well and in better condition Monday morning, and only one fish died following the removal.

The cats have been evaluated by a veterinarian, vaccinated, wormed, fed, groomed and cared for and and will be spayed and neutered and made available for adoption on a case-by-case basis.

The SPCA of Texas is looking into housing the fish at its shelter as a part of educational outreach to the community, according to Alicia Brown with SPCA of Texas in Dallas.

More information about the SPCA of Texas can be found on the agency's website at:  http://www.spca.org.

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