BONHAM — The 140 dogs and two cats seized from a home in Fannin County last weekend were officially awarded to the SPCA by Justice of the Peace Royce Smithey Friday afternoon.


The owners of the dogs were identified in court as Cindy Oliver and Mitchell Gilbert; they did not attend hearing.


For that reason, Assistant Fannin County District Attorney Will Porter asked for a default judgment in the case. After asking questions of an SPCA investigator and a local veterinarian, Smithey granted that request. Oliver and Gilbert have ten days to appeal that decision along with the $33,338.85 judgement Smithey levied against them for the cost of the care and treatment of the animals. The JP gave the pair 15 days to present him with list of their assets.


SPCA Spokesperson Maura Davies said should the dog owners appeal the judge’s decision, that hearing will take place within ten days of the appeal.


She said should the SPCA end up with the dogs, they will continue to be evaluated and treated before eventually being put up for adoption.


Veterinarian Shawn Ashley testified that the dogs suffered from severe worm infestations, matted hair, overgrown nails and skin issues. She said the dogs ranged in age from two days old to around 12 years old. She said the dogs included Maltese, Yorkies, Pomeranian, and Cairn Terriers as well as mixes of all of those dogs. An SPCA investigator testified that the dogs would probably all survive their experience at the property near Honey Grove. Smithey asked if there were any evidence that the dogs had been abused physically and the investigator said there was not. He said the dogs seemed to have been given water and food.


However, Ashley testified that the dogs all had to be vaccinated immediately and dewormed. She said the worm infection was so severe that it would have constituted a public health concern. She said the dogs were so matted that it was causing problems with their hearing and site. Additionally, she said, some of the dogs suffered from dental problems so severe that their jaws were impacted. She said they are still evaluating the dogs’ blood work to see what kinds of other issues they may face.


A news release from the day the dogs and two cats were seized said that around 30 were found inside a house and the rest in a structure behind the house.


“The structure was infested with roaches, which were found crawling all over the dogs and cats housed there,” the SPCA’s release said. “In one area, the dogs were being housed in feces- and urine-filled wire crates stacked on top of each other. In another area, a makeshift run of feces- and urine-filled pens held the majority of the dogs. The entire structure was coated in feces and drenched in urine, and the stench of feces and urine was so strong that it caused investigators to gag and could be smelled from well outside the structure.”


The owners told the SPCA that the dogs were being sold. The SPCA noted all large-scale animal breeders in Texas are required by law to be licensed and inspected on a regular basis.