WACO, Texas -- Authorities in McLennan County are calling it one of the worst cases of animal cruelty they’ve ever seen. Sheriff’s deputies and animal control officers have seized roughly 150 puppies found living in deplorable conditions at an alleged puppy mill in Waco.
32 of the dogs and puppies have been shipped to Houston to another animal shelter.
The dogs that remain in Waco will eventually be made available for adoption, once veterinarians pronounce them healthy and they’ve been retrained, a shelter spokeswoman said Monday. That, she said, is expected to take some time.
The Waco shelter was stretched to bursting by the large influx of animals from the alleged puppy mill, but almost as many animals—62—came in from various sources over the past weekend.
"It's just a dog here and a kitten there, but it adds up," she said.
James Van Winkle, the former owner of the dogs, was arrested Friday afternoon and charged with cruelty to non-livestock animals.
He was later released on $10,000 bond.
Late Friday morning, McLennan County Justice of the Peace Kristi Decluitt ruled that the 78 dogs seized in what a sheriff’s official described as “one of the worst cases of animal cruelty we’ve seen in this county in a long time” should be given to a nonprofit animal shelter, the Waco Humane Society or a society for the protection of animals.
DeCluitt also ordered the dogs’ owners, Van Winkle and Barbara Mitchell, to pay court costs and $6,240 for the care and feeding the animals have required since they were seized.
The Waco Humane Society has been caring for the Great Pyrenees, Rat Terriers and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels since the dogs were seized on May 1 from a residence at 1209 Oak Knoll in Elm Mott where deputies served a warrant that authorized the seizure of as many as 150 dogs.
On May 1, deputies found some dogs in cages normally used to hold rabbits, McLennan County Chief Deputy Sheriff Randy Plemmons said.
They also found a 55-gallon drum that contained the remains of dead dogs and another barrel that contained the remains of dead goats, Plemmons said.
The bellies of some of the dogs that were seized were yellow because the animals had been lying in their own feces, Plemmons said.
Documents show that some of the dogs had badly matted hair and tumors.
The dogs had not been bathed and evidently have not been vaccinated, documents show.
The Humane Society is seeking donations of cash, food for small-breed dogs and is looking for volunteers to walk and help care for the seized animals.
Anyone interested in helping may call the shelter at (254) 754-1454