The animals were removed on health code violations punishable by up to $2,000 for each offense, but city officials said they were not sure how their investigation will proceed.
The owners of the house where the 59 dogs were seized Tuesday afternoon are double-booked on hearings for Monday — one in Municipal Court to determine what to do with the dogs impounded Tuesday, and another in Tom Green County Court involving a nearly identical incident last year with different dogs.
Attorneys filed the animal cruelty cases in February for the offense that is alleged to have occurred April 2008.
The charge is punishable by up to a year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
It’s not yet clear whether the dogs’ owners were in compliance with the city’s new animal ordinances.
An attempt to reach the family for comment at their home Wednesday afternoon was unsuccessful.
At Monday’s pretrial hearing, the defendants will tell the judge how they wish to proceed and at this stage could enter a plea. No attorney is listed for the Kenneys, said Teena Pierce, office manager for the County Attorney’s Office.
At the same time and day, a Municipal Court hearing is scheduled to decide what will be done with the dogs. Judge Jay Daniel, who presided over the couple’s case last year, is expected to determine whether the animals in this case were mistreated.
City officials said they received numerous phone complaints from neighbors, especially during April and May, about odors from the dogs and loud barking in the middle of the night. Neighbors also complained that on rainy days, dog excrement ran off into their yards.
The dogs are boarded at the animal shelter, where they were taken Tuesday night after a visit to the veterinarian’s office. All animals appeared to be unhurt, city spokesman Ty Meighan said.
In last year’s case, the animals went to a Shih Tzu rescue operation, Meighan said.
Entering the house on a warrant Tuesday afternoon, City Marshals found animals, most of the Shih Tzuhs, scattered throughout the rooms.
Animal services, code compliance, and city and county health officials were all involved in the investigation, Meighan said. They warned residents they had to clean up the backyard or they animals would be taken.
He said the Kenneys kept the dogs inside during the day and let some out late at night.
Dogs and the law
The removal of 59 dogs from a house in The Bluffs on Tuesday was based on this ordinance:
Violated Health Code Sc. 3.1001: Sanitation
It shall be unlawful for any person harboring, having or keeping in possession any animal, including but not limited to, horses, mules, goats, sheep, swine, geese, ducks, chickens and other fowls, dogs, cats, non-domesticated animals including predatory animals, and primates, to allow the pen, yard, enclosure or other place where such animals are kept to become filthy, malodorous or unsanitary.
All places where livestock is kept shall have adequate drainage sufficient to prevent standing water in pens, yards or enclosures.
Right now there are no state laws regulating puppy mills, but Texas legislators are working on some that would require breeders to:
• Provide food at least once every 24 hours with continuous access to water;
• Allow confined animals enough space to easily sit, stand, turn around and lie down in a normal manner;
• Provide proper ventilation and adequate lighting for animals confined indoors;
• Provide structurally sound shelter with proper protection from inclement weather conditions for animals confined outdoors;
• Maintain adequate sanitation conditions within the living spaces;
• Provide proper handling, treatment and immunization of animals for disease, parasite and pest control, including proper care by a veterinarian and written health records for each animal.
(Standard Times - May 28, 2009)