Case Snapshot
Case ID: 15145
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat, dog (non pit-bull), sheep, other farm animal, chicken, rabbit (pet), bird (other farmed), goat
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Sunday, Jan 25, 2009

County: Van Zandt

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Richard Anthony Delfeld, Jr.

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

A 53-year-old man was arrested Sunday at a rural Van Zandt County property where 185 animals were living in squalid conditions with no food or water.

Authorities, who were called out for a welfare check on Saturday, also found dozens of dead animals on the property and the man's 63-year-old uncle living in a mobile home in "horrific" conditions with no food or electricity.

Richard Anthony Delfeld Jr. was arrested on suspicion of felony injury to a disabled person. He is being held at the Van Zandt County jail.

Officials with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which seized the animals and brought them to a McKinney shelter, said Delfeld may also be charged with cruelty to animals.

"I couldn't believe that anyone would allow their animals to live in the condition that we found those animals," said sheriff's investigator Chuck Allen, describing it as one of the worst cases of animal hoarding the department has seen.

The uncle, who has not been identified, was listed in stable condition Sunday at Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler.

Authorities describe Delfeld as a nephew and a caretaker living on the rural property in the community of Myrtle Springs, near Wills Point.

The property was "filthy, full of garbage and cluttered," said Maura Davies, spokeswoman with the SPCA of Texas.

Many of the animals found in cages and pens were forced to live in their own filth.

Food was available for the animals, but there was no effort to feed them, said SPCA of Texas president James Bias, who was among the employees at the property Sunday.

"One of the holding pens that had the majority of the goats and sheep was almost a foot deep in old manure," he said.

At least 50 goats and sheep, 41 dogs, 30 chickens, 18 ducks and geese, seven rabbits, three turkeys, two cats and one alpaca were found alive at the home Sunday.

About 75 animals, including 30 rabbits and 27 goats, were found dead on the property.

The sheriff's deputy said animal bones and carcasses were all over the property, some covered with tarps or pieces of metal.

"It was almost like a pet cemetery," Allen said.

A custody hearing for the animals will be Friday morning at the Van Zandt County courthouse.

The animals are at the Perry Animal Care Center and Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic in McKinney.

Staff and volunteers there are working in shifts to provide food, walk the dogs and brush and bathe the animals, "providing every bit of care that these animals need," Davies said.

Case Updates

All of the 185 neglected animals including dogs and goats - rescued last Sunday in Van Zandt County have been awarded to The SPCA of Texas, which has begun the process of finding each one a loving home. Some of the animals will be available for adoption as of noon on Friday, Feb. 6 at one of the two SPCA of Texas shelters in Dallas.

Last Sunday, The SPCA of Texas seized 185 live animals from a rural home in Van Zandt County and transported them to the Perry Animal Care Center, where they were cared for until Friday's custody hearing in Wills Point.

During the hearing, the defendant, Richard Delfeld, admitted that he was responsible for the animals' care and indicated that he did not believe the animals had adequate shelter. Only a small number of the animals had a tarp or piece of plywood over their cages to protect them from the weather. Although Delfeld had access to food for the animals, he did not appear to have been feeding them regularly or providing them with adequate water. An SPCA investigation showed that some animals at his home had died of starvation.

All of the animals seized will be individually evaluated on a case-by-case basis. To see them as they become available for adoption, please visit the SPCA online Adoptable Pet Gallery often. To download photos of the seizure, visit
Source: Examiner - Jan 30, 2009
Update posted on Feb 1, 2009 - 7:13PM 


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