Case Snapshot
Case ID: 12356
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Defense(s): Tim Cone
Judge(s): Lauren Parish

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For more information about the Interactive Animal Cruelty Maps, see the map notes.

Wednesday, Sep 26, 2007

County: Upshur

Charges: Felony CTA
Disposition: Convicted
Case Images: 36 files available

Defendant/Suspect: Teresa Kay Dawson

Case Updates: 3 update(s) available

Animal rescuers took nearly 250 dogs from an alleged "puppy mill" on Sept 26, 2007, and the property owner has been arrested on a felony charge of cruelty to animals.

The seizure is among the largest the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has done in Texas, said Maura Davies, a spokeswoman for the group.

Teresa Dawson, 51, remained in the Upshur County Jail on Wednesday in lieu of $20,000 bail. She could face more charges, Upshur County Sheriff Anthony Betterton said. It was unclear whether she had an attorney.

The dogs lived in squalid conditions, and many were emaciated, Davies said. Betterton said 246 dogs were seized from the rural East Texas site.

Case Updates

An Upshur County grand jury indicted a Gladewater woman on felony cruelty to animal charges. Last month, authorities raided her residence and removed 247 dogs deemed to be living in unsanitary conditions.

Bond for Teresa Dawson, 51, was set at $10,000, said information today from the Upshur County District Attorney's Office.

On Sept. 26, the Upshur County Sheriff's Office and SPCA of Texas rescued hundreds of dogs from her rural residence. Upshur County sheriff's office found feces-soaked dog runs, unkempt grounds and dogs suffering from malnutrition, matted fur and ill health.

At the time, Sheriff Anthony Betterton called it the worst case of animal cruelty in Upshur County history.

Custody of the dogs was awarded to SPCA Texas by an Upshur County judge. The animals were treated and some have been put up for adoption.
Source: Tyler Morning Telegraph - Nov 9, 2007
Update posted on Nov 9, 2007 - 8:38PM 
Many of the dogs rescued from an Upshur County residence in September will be up for adoption on Saturday at Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelters in Dallas and McKinney.

The shelters are at 362 S. Industrial Blvd. in Dallas and 8411 Stacy Road in McKinney, said information from SPCA of Texas.

The dogs have been spayed and neutered and have had shots, the information said.

During a hearing on Oct. 5, the SPCA was awarded custody of 247 dogs taken near Gladewater on Sept. 26 from what the SPCA is calling a "puppy mill." Animals were living in overcrowded and filthy conditions.

Upshur County officials have charged the property owner with animal cruelty crimes.

The SPCA brought the animals back to its shelter in McKinney where they received treatment and care. Three of the animals died. Most are improving, the SPCA said.

More dogs seized during the raid will be made available for adoption later.
Source: Tyler Morning Telegraph - Oct 13, 2007
Update posted on Oct 14, 2007 - 12:19AM 
Though warning signs nailed to the homestead's front gate off Private Road 3463 deterred visitors in the past, a search warrant issued Tuesday granted law enforcement access to the small rural lot.

You could smell the dogs before seeing them. A sharp scent hinted of the fecal matter and decay that lay ahead.

Though trees kept the littered lot hidden from view, the woods did nothing to muffle dogs' barking and whimpering.

Rows and rows of kennels stacked four and five deep held toy breeds like Pomeranians, Boston Terriers and Jack Russell Terriers. Most dogs were paired male to female to ensure continuous breeding.

For many dogs, Dallas SPCA Director of Communications Maura Davies said the problem was malnutrition. Dogs had eye problems and were diseased. The dogs' fur was matted and splotchy.

As SPCA employees removed each dog for vet care, the dogs' barking got louder.
"They don't look good," Betterton said.

Grass grew knee-high around heaps of waste. Old propane tanks, lawnmowers, tubs of rancid water and old couches filled the spots between rows of kennels.

A travel trailer, in which Betterton believes Ms. Dawson may have slept, sat central to all the feces-soaked dog runs and holding-kennels.

Inside were even more dogs, confined by a piece of fencing pushed against the doorway by a table.

The dogs clawed at the fence's openings and barked.

A larger trash heap was found behind a separate mobile home.

"You can imagine what that is," Betterton said - he couldn't explain the ashes were probably remains of charred dogs.

Inside the mobile home were even more animals.

Betterton tried to open the structure's door, but was met by at least four small breed dogs that tried to escape. An emaciated Chihuahua squeezed around the door frame. Roaches dripped from the ceiling. Liquid feces replaced the floor.

Ms. Davies said air inside the house had an ammonia level of 28, while 12 is considered dangerous.

The door had to be closed, but Betterton didn't walk away.

"Just listen to what's in there."

The dogs clawed and barked against the torn-up door.

Ms. Dawson wasn't home. She had been picked up on charges of felony cruelty to animals Monday.

Ms. Dawson left behind more belongings than the dogs.

Christmas lights strung from tree to tree held up clothes. Soiled toys hung from branches and a coffee pot sat atop more trash on the back porch.

And to the side of the house, a sandwich board labeled "Chihuahua" sat beside a urinal and wheel bases.

Betterton said the puppies born to the ill-treated dogs may have been sold at fairgrounds or on the side of the road.

Regarding plans for Ms. Dawson's littered land, Betterton said the county may seize the property, or it could go back to the original owner.

Whatever the decision, it would happen in court.

The dogs were discovered Sunday when a stranger responded to Ms. Dawson's sale ad for a camper, Betterton said.

The would-be buyer left the land and instead bought a 40-pound bag of dog food. He fed the dogs and then notified the sheriff's office, Betterton said.

Since that voluntary meal, the sheriff's office has fed the dogs around 600-pounds of food.

Betterton called for state regulations to be placed on puppy sales and asked citizens to keep an eye open for animal cruelty. All animals will be cared for by the SPCA until a custody hearing is set.

"The animals will see a vet and for the ones that can, be brought back up to health," Ms. Davies said.

If the court awards custody to the nonprofit SPCA, Ms. Davies said the animals would be considered for adoption on a case-by-case basis.

Ms. Dawson is being kept at the Upshur County Jail on bond of $20,000.
Source: Tyler Morning Telegraph - Sept 27, 2007
Update posted on Oct 3, 2007 - 2:51PM 


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