ROSE CITY, Texas — The Rose City Marshal is investigating a suspected puppy mill at a home in Rose City.
Twenty to 25 adult dogs that all appear to be Labradors, including males and females were found at a home in the 300 block Westwood Drive, Rose City Marshal Ken Bost said.
The resident was not home Thursday morning at the time the marshal showed up.
Bost said he takes animal abuse very seriously. He says he plans on filing "cruelty to an animal" charges on every dog found at the home, including one that was found dead.
Bost said he learned of the abuse earlier this week. He was tipped off that the dogs were constantly getting loose. When he came to check it out, he noticed a dead dog through the fence.
"Gave me probable cause to enter the property, the property owner's been gone about two weeks now," Bost said.
He spoke to the property owner by phone. He said a neighbor was apparently supposed to be watching the dogs while the owner was away. He believes they hadn't been fed or given water regularly for about two weeks.
"My understanding is, he's trying to breed the dogs to sell, but he's not doing a very good job at it," Bost said.
This is the worst case of abuse Bost has seen in more than 15 years. He doesn't think the dogs would have made it through the week.
"The owner of these has voluntarily surrendered so now I'm just in the process of placing them," Bost said.
He recruited help from nearby neighbor Kenneth Russo, who also breeds Labradors. Russo was horrified to see how the dogs had been living for the past couple of weeks. He was visibly shaken as he described what he saw.
"Dogs living in fecal matter, urine, no water, empty feeders, bags of food inside the house but the dogs didn't have access to it, then I saw the dead dog that was infested with bugs," Russo said.
Russo said the dogs name was "Princess." He was angered by the situation, but Russo knows his focus has to be on making it right for the dogs.
"As a dog owner, dog lover, it is my responsibility, so I've done and will continue to do until we can get some help to get these dogs out of this situation," Russo said.
He already took one six or seven month old yellow lab female to the vet, and covered the medical expenses out of pocket.
"There's just not any resources for this kind of thing, or at least none that are kicking in," Russo said.
Russo said when he last saw the dog four weeks ago, she was a perfectly healthy 45 pound puppy. Thursday at the vet, she was down to 21 pounds. Russo said she was infested with hook worms and severely dehydrated. He's confident he'll be able to save the puppy and get it to a good home.
With the owner's consent, Russo has done his best to work on the property, but he has a long way to go. He wants to get the dogs away from the owner's back yard altogether.
"It's infested with fecal and urine in the ground level saturation, hook worms, tape worms, ground worms, all of those things," he said.
There's no local resource big enough to handle to take in all of the dogs, Russo explained. He moved the ones who didn't pose a health threat to his dogs over to his kennel, but some are still on the property.
He's already purchased materials to build a fence and shelter for the dogs on his property to foster the animals, but he needs help to make it happen.
Russo invited anyone interested in helping to come at 8 on Monday morning.
He said the goal is to get the dogs to new homes and to create a place for them to safely live in the meantime.
"We need muscle, not money," Russo said.
Russo can be reached at (409)-201-8479.
Those interested in helping financially, or adopting one of the animals can also contact Bost at city hall at (409)-769-6809.
Bost also pleaded with pet owners to take care of their animals, and keep them fed and hydrated.
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This is a developing story. We will update with more if and when we receive more confirmed information.