Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dogs Seized From Weatherford Home In Abuse Case

By Melissa Newton, CBS 11

It's the worst case of animal neglect that Parker County Animal Control officials have seen in years.

Sheriff's deputies seized five starving dogs from a home in the 1400 block of Ranger Highway in Weatherford, Tuesday.

The Boxer/Pit Bull mix are seriously malnourished, starved to a skeletal state.

"This is the first time I have seen a case that is so bad that their head is sunk in," said Weatherford/Parker County Animal Shelter Supervisor Tammie Wright, "Just literally skin, draped over bones."

Officers and deputies reported three adult males and two adult females were in dangerous condition and listed as lethargic due to neglect. The animals were surrendered by the owner to the care of the shelter. A veterinarian assessed the dogs, finding all of the dogs were in a state of severe malnutrition.

"Their condition indicated they had not received an adequate diet likely within the last three to four months," Dr. Veronica Flores told the Sheriff's Department. "Their bodies were depleted to a stage of severe muscle deterioration."

Deputies arrested the dogs' owner, Christine Lynn Shaw, 39, on felony animal cruelty charges.

Shaw bonded out Wednesday. If convicted she could face up to two years in jail.

"It just escapes me how a human being can sit there and watch this every day, the deterioration of an animal," Sheriff Larry Fowler said, "Obviously it leaps out of you that there's something terribly wrong here."

"This is really the most severe case I have ever come across in my 33 years of doing animal control," Wright said, "Whether it is a Pit Bull, a Chihuahua, or a Poodle, no animal deserves to be treated like this."

The dogs are in such bad shape, Wright is still not sure all of them will survive. The average weight for a pit bull is 65 pounds, one weighed only 20.

"He's lost so much muscle tone in his legs from not having enough to eat, that his legs shake," Wright said, "because it's hard for him to stand."

Little by little, the shelter is increasing the dogs' food intake but officials say it will take months before adoption could even be considered.

"There's hope that they can be brought back to a healthy state," Wright said, "Being the pit bull breed they had the will and the strength to survive."


Update September 23, 2010 9:48pm - The following article is by Domingo Ramirez Jr., Star-Telegram:

Parker County authorities seize dogs in 'skeletal state' from Weatherford woman
A Weatherford woman faces animal cruelty charges after Parker County authorities found five dogs in a "skeletal state" at her home.
The dogs, boxer and pit bull mixed-breeds, were severely malnourished, with an inadequate diet for three to four months, according to a veterinarian.
Authorities arrested Christine Lynn Shaw, 39, on Tuesday after the dogs were seized in the 1400 block of Ranger Highway just outside Weatherford.
Shaw, who was released on $7,500 bail, faces a felony charge of cruelty to nonlivestock animals/torture. If convicted, she faces up to two years in a state jail facility.
Authorities said it's a felony charge because the case is considered torture, which the Texas Penal Code defines as "unjustified pain and suffering."
But Shaw said Thursday that the allegations are not true.
"I wasn't trying to hurt them," she said in a telephone interview as she sobbed. "I love my dogs."
The woman said that her dogs had worms, but that she didn't have the money to have them treated. She also noted that she doesn't have a vehicle.
"I'm scared to take my dogs to the Parker County shelter because they will euthanize them because they're pit bulls," Shaw said.
Authorities went to the home on Ranger Highway on Tuesday after a resident reported the alleged cruelty.
"This was the worst case of neglect and starvation many of our animal control officers have seen in their careers," Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said in a news release. "There's no justification in animal cruelty -- period."
Animal control officers and deputies found three adult males and two females in dangerous conditions, they said.
"Their bodies were depleted to a stage of severe muscle deterioration," said Dr. Veronica Flores, who assessed the dogs.
Weatherford-Parker County Animal Shelter employees said normal healthy dogs of that breed should weigh up to 65 pounds. One of these dogs Tuesday weighed 20 pounds.
"The owner was clearly starving these dogs," said Sheriff's Lt. Ryan Speegle, who is in charge of deputies and animal control officers at the shelter, after seeing the dogs. "I'm amazed they were still alive."
Each dog will have to be fed a special diet and will require veterinary care for several months before adoption, authorities said.
Shaw said she doesn't believe that her dogs will be adopted.
"The dogs are scared and apprehensive about human contact, but seem to be adjusting as well as can be expected," Speegle said. "We're hoping for the best outcome, which is complete recovery."
Monetary donations will be needed to help nurse the dogs back to health, authorities said.
Anyone wanting to make donations should call the Weatherford-Parker County Animal Shelter at 817-598-4111.

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