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Non-profit animal shelter owners arrested

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FANNIN COUNTY -Under the authority of the Fannin County Sheriff's Department, the SPCA of Texas seized 65 dogs and 10 cats and kittens today from a property in Leonard, TX.

Many of the dogs were being cruelly confined on tethers outdoors and inside a residence on the property. The residence is unlivable and the people staying on the property were living in tents. About half of the dogs are underweight and several dogs have untreated open wounds on their ears. One third of the dogs had eye discharge and one dog was missing an ear. The cats and kittens are emaciated and the kittens are in need of immediate veterinary care. Some of the cats were loose in the house and others were in crates in the garage. One crate in the garage held the mother cat and her kittens and the other crate held a cat without food, water or a litter box.

Additionally, one cat, several kittens, and what looked like other dogs and cats had been burned in two of the several burn piles on the property. 

The location of today's seizure is the residence of James "Soaring Eagle" Vonda, the manager of Domestic Animal Rescue Shelter Service (DARESS). The group previously had a contract with the city of Ferris to handle the city's adoptions. Two months ago, there were allegations of animal cruelty at the shelter concerning the animals that  Mr. Vonda was responsible for. Before the SPCA of Texas could even initiate an investigation, Mr. Vonda claimed to have moved the dogs to Oklahoma. Today, Mr. Vonda admitted that at least 40 of the dogs found on the property were moved from the Ferris city animal shelter.

The SPCA of Texas received an anonymous tip late this morning regarding the animals' conditions. An SPCA of Texas investigator visited the property with the Leonard Police Department and the Fannin County Sheriff's Department and found the animals in severe cruel conditions. The Fannin County Sheriff's Department concurred with the SPCA of Texas that it was in the animals' best interest to obtain a warrant and remove the animals immediately.   

SPCA of Texas vehicles transported the animals to the Perry Animal Care Center at 8411 Stacy Road/FM 720 in McKinney, TX 75070, where they will be examined by medical staff and cared for until the custody hearing.

The custody hearing will take place on Friday, May 28 at 10 a.m. at the Fannin County Justice of the Peace, Pct. 2 Courthouse at 111 W. Collins St. in Leonard, TX, Judge Alan Hale presiding. 

If the SPCA of Texas is awarded custody of the animals, they would be individually evaluated for potential adoption or placement on a case by case basis.

To see the original article covered by The Ellis County Press go here: http://www.elliscountypress.com/news/132/ARTICLE/6131/2010-04-01.html

Follow up here : http://www.elliscountypress.com/news/132/ARTICLE/6168/2010-04-08.html

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