Haslett: The Frank Barchard Memorial Animal Shelter in Wolfe City is the only no-kill animal shelter in Hunt County. The future of that operation is in doubt. On Wednesday, all animals in the care of the shelter were seized in a cooperative effort involving Hunt County law enforcement and the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas.
Davies: There were 222 animals seized, and that’s 166 dogs, 43 cats, 14 kittens and 13 puppies.
Haslett: That’s Maura Davies with the SPCA of Texas. She says that of those 222 animals, two kittens, one puppy and one cat were found dead on the property during the seizure. Davies says that the shelter was in violation of state regulations in two areas. One was cruel confinement, which in layman’s terms is simple overcrowding. The other area where she says the shelter was out of compliance had to do with medical neglect.
Davies: Many of the animals appear to be suffering from open wounds, eye discharge, nasal discharge, hair loss, open surgery incisions, like open spay/neuter incisions, matted hair, long nails, there were a lot of ticks, some were underweight and there were several that were missing eyes, including one cat that was missing both of its eyes and one dog that was housed in the air-conditioned building that had an eye that I can describe as popped out.
Haslett: Davies also said that some of the food and water appeared to be contaminated.
Davies: A lot of the food had feces mixed in with it and a lot of the water appeared to be different colors. Some water was white, like opaque white. Some water was a very bright, thick-looking electric green. I don’t know what was in that, but it did not appear to be drinkable. But there was other water in other locations.
Haslett: The shelter is operated by the Commerce Humane Association. Jody McIntier is in charge of both the Barchard Shelter and the Commerce Humane Association. McIntier declined an opportunity to be interviewed for this story. McIntier did provide KETR with a written statement, saying:
“We are working to get our animals back. We have served Hunt County for years and saved many animals that would have parished (sic) in municipal shelters. Our adoption rates are high and we care for each baby as if it was our own. Anyone that knows us knows this is the SPCA's way of making money and we will fight until every animal is returned.”
The 218 surviving animals are now at an SPCA-operated shelter in McKinney. Their fate could be determined on July 31st, next Thursday, when a judge in Greenville will rule on who should have custody of the animals. Davies explained that this is a civil and not a criminal case.
Davies: There are two types of laws that protect animals from cruelty: civil laws and criminal laws. These laws are similar but they differ in their penalties they impose. In this particular case, the civil side is what’s happening right now. In a civil case if a judge rules that a person has been cruel to animals or people have been cruel to animals, the judge may take away that person or those people’s animals and order that person or people to pay restitution.
Haslett: Whoever loses in the custody hearing next week will have one opportunity to appeal. That appeal would happen in a county court, also in Greenville. Since Wednesday’s seizure, rumors have been spread on social media and elsewhere that the seized animals might be euthanized. Davies says that the SPCA does not euthanize animals because of space considerations or time spent in shelter. She said that the SPCA does euthanize animals that are suffering from an untreatable medical condition or animals that are so aggressive that they cannot be adopted.
The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. July 31 at 2801 Stuart St., Greenville.