Authorities in Wills, Texas seize 300 pit bulls from Spindletop Refuge

Tyson, one of many pit bulls promised sanctuary at Spindletop

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s department yesterday served a search warrant on Spindletop Refuge in Wills, Texas.  Spindletop is the state’s largest and most well-known pit bull rescue organization. The Sheriff’s department determined that over three hundred dogs needed to be seized due to the conditions they were living in. According to, almost all of the dogs are Pit Bulls. “They were found in small crates and cages, all sleeping in urine and feces. Vets are on the scene supervising the removal from at least five buildings on the property. One of those buildings, a two story home houses almost eighty dogs.”

Angel, one of many pit bulls promised sanctuary at Spindletop

Disaster response teams from the Humane Society of the United States(HSUS) are assisting with the transfer of the dogs to a safe location where they will be provided emergency medical attention and safe housing until a seizure hearing can be held.

Polooka, one of many pit bulls promised sanctuary at Spindletop

According to a statement issued earlier today, Animal Farm Foundation is assisting with the case at Spindletop Refuge as well. They are reaching out to the many individuals, shelters, and rescue groups have transferred dogs to Spindletop and want to know the status of those dogs and how to retrieve them. They are promising to make that information available as soon as possible. A court hearing will take place soon, at which point they expect to have more details after that. Anyone seeking information on dogs transferred to Spindletop are asked to contact AFF by email at

Daisy, one of many pit bulls promised sanctuary at Spindletop

The AFF statement goes on to say, “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.”

Richard, one of my pi bulls promised sanctuary at Spindletop

Charges have not yet been filed.

Update 7/18/2012, 4:00 p.m. The Houston Press reports that a hearing date has been set for Friday, July 20th at 10:30 a.m. in Justice of the Peace Precinct 2, Conroe, Texas.  Bring proof of ownership to claim dogs transferred from rescue. Phone: 936-538-3788 Fax: 936-538-7732.  If you cannot attend in person, you can send a representative with a signed release authorizing them to act on your behalf.


Update 7/20/12:

Copyright Rebecca Poling 2012. All rights reserved. Email DFWAnimalRescue@att.netif you have a story you’d like to share.

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26 Responses to Authorities in Wills, Texas seize 300 pit bulls from Spindletop Refuge

  1. Mike Davis says:

    Hsus doesn’t adopt dogs out …

  2. Rebecca Poling says:

    No, they don’t. They rescue them and then transfer them to area shelters and rescues to do that.

  3. Greg Power says:

    HSUS is a horrible deceitful orginization! Very little of their donated funds do anything to help local shelters. It’s sad to see these dogs being cared for in this way and I’m glad some sort of justice will be served. I’m also sad that HSUS gets any credit for helping.

  4. Lori Bernstein says:

    Sounds like it will be Animal Farm Foundation that the dogs will be relinquished too. It would be great to know more about who is evaluating the dogs for adoptability, and to know how to send $$ to support the care and rehab of these poor pitties.

  5. Rebecca Poling says:

    Greg, HSUS is a national organization experienced in disaster animal response and sheltering and that is why they were called in. They do not donate to local shelters, that is correct. Most of their income goes toward legislating on behalf of animals on a state and national level.

    Lori- my understanding is that there are vets and behaviorists from Texas A&M that will be doing the evaluations. Right now, all the expenses are being incurred by HSUS and PetSmart Charities PetSmart Charities supplied the crates, kongs, and other supplies for the dogs, who are being housed in a temporary facility for now. Should the judge uphold the seizure he will most likely award the dogs to either HSUS or AFF, or both, and they’ll then transfer them to shelters and rescues across the state -if not, across the country. At that time, I’m hoping to get a list of those shelters and rescues in case anyone wants to donate. I will keep you posted.


      I want Poloka back if Leah can;t keep her.

      • Sinthya says:

        I think you need to get Poloka back.. there is no IF.. LEAH seems to be in trouble!

      • renn says:

        I was going to ask, how do we adopt Poloka, I fell in love

      • tasha says:

        I would like to find out if we can help at all with any of these dogs?!

      • Garnell McMichael says:

        Unfortunately Ellen spoke with Leah this morning before the court hearing and was informed that Poloka, and my girl Angel, died of heat stroke in a building that lost power in mid-June. Along with 36 other dogs!!!

      • Crazyottojr says:

        Sorry to hear about Angel and Poloka. At least Leah won’t be doing this anymore in Montgomery County. There are enough of us that will be sure that she runs another shelter/rescue anywhere.

      • Crazyottojr says:

        I mean NEVER runs another shelter anywhere!!!

    • Carole Owen says:

      Sorry, but HSUS is not good at disaster response. I arrived at the Racehaven shelter south of New Orleans to volunteer with the PAWS group from Austin after Katrina the night HSUS was bringing in a semi load of dogs from New Orleans. They needed a place for the animals, and Pasado Safe Haven which was running the shelter let them come with the agreement that HSUS would care for its own animals. We stayed about four days, and I watched HSUS “in action.” Dogs Pasado was caring for had first class care. Volunteers were there to ex dogs and clean crates and feed by 6 a.m.

      • Carole Owen says:

        Continuing with my unfinished response above. No one arrived to care the HSUS dogs until late in the morning. Pasado Safe Haven finally got disgusted with the inferior care HSUS was giving its own dogs that it kicked HSUS out, and took over responsibility for the HSUS dogs.

        HSUS raised millions off Katrina, and did not spend it all on Katrina. HSUS failed to account for the huge monies it raised off Katrina. The story will never be fully known because HSUS mollified animal people in New Orleans by building a shelter with some of the bait-and-switch funds that didn’t get spent on victims of Katrina as the donors intended.

        HSUS’s business is Animal Rights legislation, not disaster response!

      • Crazyottojr says:

        Can’t speak to Katrina… but I can speak to what I have seen and heard from people so far on the scene. It appears that people with AFF HSUS, Petsmart, Montgomery County have stepped up are doing a good job in feeding and caring for the animals. The HSUS workers I met spoke lovingly of the dogs. I think it best not to jump to conclusions in this case. There are a lot of people watching this and I am sure HSUS doesn’t want to look bad.

    • Margaret says:

      Rebecca- Thank you for actually knowing something before speaking… These idiots who like to bash people and organizations should get some education before they open their mouths!

  6. Faye Bray says:

    Funds were raised to send sweet little Marnie to this place to be trained and to find a home for her. We thought this was going to be a good thing for her since she was rescued from an Ohio shelter or else we would have kept her. This was a bad experience right from the get go, especially dealing with Ellen. Marnie went from one terrible experience at the Ohio shelter right into another at Spindletop. She has a bad heart and hopefully she will make it thru this.

  7. Pingback: 300 Spindletop dogs saved from "living hell" will be returned to rescuers - DFW Animal Rescue

  8. Rose Jones says:

    The HSUS has a policy of evaluating each dog individually to determine if it is suitable for adoption. Has had that policy in place since the rescue of Michael Vick’s dogs. All HSUS funds collected during Katrina were required to be spent in the flood area by court order and so it has been done. Some of us who donated would have expected only that our donations be used for rescue, that one and future rescues, but the court with jurisdiction thought otherwise. The expenses incurred by the HSUS in connection with its disaster response team is enormous. They respond to the requests of law enforcement in cases where there are large numbers of animals to be moved and cared for. It does not help animals to spread misinformation about any legitimate humane organization. Activities of the HSUS can be followed on a daily basis through their website. I do it and recommend it to others.

    • Crazyottojr says:

      Rose , Thank you for the clarification. I know in this case HSUS is doing an outstanding job of supplying resources and labor to assist with the animals. Everyone I have talked or heard from has said that HSUS resources alone have been a godsend.. Whatever their motivation and whatever their past reputation they are really stepping up here.

  9. Kathy B says:

    Counties need to be aware of who they ask to help. Some groups are misleading and make it appear they can and will do certain things, when they cant and dont. A majority of the dogs picked up, are in good health that must mean something. The owner of the rescue did get in over her head, but she isnt a cruel, brutal dog killer as some people are trying to make her out to be. Any person that turned a dog over should take some responsibility in this mess. Those dogs came from somewhere, she didnt breed them all. The entire over population problem is basically man made. Feral dogs running around dropping puppies are not the problem, people are.

  10. terrie o says:

    Why would she be breeding dogs to begin with? She of all people should know there are way too many unwanted dogs in Montgomery, Harris and surrounding counties. I hope all these dogs find a great home that they so deserve. If anyone has any information on how we can help these animals, please let us know.

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