KETR's Caitlin Barbee spoke with Caleb Slinkard, editor of the Greenville Herald Banner, who attended the Thursday hearing before Justice of the Peace Sheila Linden regarding the fate of more than 200 animals seized from the Frank Barchard Memorial Animal Shelter, operated by the Commerce Humane Association.
A transcript follows.
Slinkard: "The biggest thing that came out of today's custody hearing initially was that the president of the animal shelter where these animals were siezed from did not have an attorney present. According to her, initially the attorney was going to be able to be there but they changed the time of the trial from 2pm to 9am. Because of that, her attorney a scheduling conflict and so at the beginning of the hearing, a motion for continuance was denied, and a motion for a change of venue was denied. The trial was kind of interesting because the state presented a lot of evidence and asked questions of several witnesses but there was no defense. So it was kind of bizarre but Jodi McIntier said that she intends to appeal the decision. So that's kind of the biggest aspects of that trial that people may want to know about.
"The second thing is that Judge Linden awarded custody of the animals to the SPCA of Texas and she also awarded them about $60,000 in restitution for the cost of the trial and taking care of the animals and things of that nature. [The SPCA of Texas] sent out a release on Thursday basically saying that they don't expect to get that money back. But they do have the animals now, along with official custody, at least until the appeal is heard."
Barbee: "Where are they sending those animals?"
Slinkard: "Right now they're at a facility in McKinney that the SPCA has. They're receiving medical care and they're being helped there. Obviously we have to wait on the appeal, but if they end up keeping full custody, the animals that they can place, they're going to place. They already had to euthanize several of the animals and I believe one died of heart failure in their care as well. They originally counted 222 animals. They only have 208 now. Three or four of those animals they found dead on the property, and the rest are either euthanized or the one that died in their care.
"[The SPCA of Texas] testifed, though I can't speak to that, that their experts and witnesses testified that the animals were suffering from a wide variety of ailments, from fleas and ticks to, you know, heartworms and ringworm and things of that nature. They're going to require some medical care. The ones that are going to be adoptible, they're going to try and get out there. That's, of course, assuming that the animal shelter's appeal is unsuccessful."
Barbee: "Is there an appeal scheduled?"
Slinkard: "No. I don't know when the appeal is going to be heard. The shelter has a specific amount of days in which to file an appeal, and as of this point they haven't done that yet, to my knowledge. I was told that they will appeal. They'll have to file it in the next ten days, so once they file we'll hear about it and we'll get it out there in the paper."
The City of Commerce issued a statement Thursday afternoon indicating that they are not associated with the Frank Barchard Animal Shelter, or the group that identifies itself as the "Commerce Humane Association."