At least 50 rescue groups and a number of individual rescuers gathered in Conroe, Texas, this morning to attend the custody hearing for 300 dogs seized earlier this week from Spindletop Refuge in Wills, Texas. Prosecutors, law enforcement, the Judge, Spindletop owner Leah Purcell and her attorney Zandra Anderson met throughout the day, apparently to try and work out a deal or settlement. At one point, rescuers were told there was no reason to stay as it was unlikely any of the dogs would be released until next week.
However, late this afternoon an agreement was reached between prosecutors and Spindletop owner Leah Purcell. All 300 dogs seized earlier today, with the exception of Purcell’s personal dogs, were surrendered. The judge then awarded custody of them to HSUS and Montgomery County.
Leah Purcell was given two years probation during which authorities will be keeping an eye on the conditions in which her personal dogs are being kept. She will never again be allowed to operate a rescue in Montgomery County. Prosecutors say they plan to press criminal charges.
Whistle-blowers confirmed to those gathered at the courthouse that conditions at the sanctuary resembled “a living hell”. Several rescuers were told the dogs they had surrendered to Spindletop had been adopted, only to find out today they were a few of the 38 dogs that died of heat stroke in an unventilated building on day last summer. They were buried in a mass grave on the property.
Officials are still working to catalog all the rescued dogs, most of which are pit bulls. Dogs with microchips will be the easiest to identify and thus the first to be returned to their owners or rescuers. After that, attempts will be made to identify the remaining dogs using the photos submitted via email. Montgomery County officials are working on a website where they’ll be posting photos of all of the dogs, and hope to have the site up tomorrow or Sunday.
Montgomery County officials praised HSUS for their fast action and for securing emergency veterinary care for the dogs suffering the most.
Copyright Rebecca Poling 2012. All rights reserved. Email DFWAnimalRescue@att.netif you have a story you’d like to share.