Dallas Animal Services recently found itself in unfamiliar territory trying to accommodate six horses in bad shape that were seized from their owner by the authorities.
The situation was as unique as it was dire, as the horses had allegedly suffered long-term neglect and needed to go somewhere to regain their strength.
“It was quite a thing to have six horses coming to an animal shelter that is used to only handling dogs and cats,” one Dallas Animal Services (DAS) employee told Fox 4 News KDFW.
Responding to the situation, the staff quickly converted their dog play yard laid with astroturf into a makeshift shelter. Yet the learning curve was sharp.
“There were things you just don’t think of, like, those two horses are stallions and they could see themselves in the glass and were kicking at the glass, we didn’t think about that,” Mary Martin, DAS assistant director, explained.
DAS came to receive its unexpected guests after Dallas police were called to a house in the 5800 block of Johnson Lane in southern Dallas earlier this month. This is in District 8, which is represented by Council Member Tennell Atkins.
The officers allegedly found the six horses, including a mare and her foal, showing visible signs of neglect and starvation. One of the horses had reportedly been tethered in such a way that it couldn’t lie down.
The owner Hulon McCoy Jones, 83, was arrested and charged with six counts of animal cruelty. The investigation is still ongoing, but animal cruelty cases in Texas can be ruled as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances.
This summer has seen a string of animal cruelty cases that have made headlines.
For instance, a woman from Collin County was arrested in August after officers reportedly found 12 dead horses and 24 dead dogs on her grandparents’ land, as previously covered in The Dallas Express.
That same month in Parker County, a 21-year-old shelter worker was jailed after surveillance footage at the facility allegedly showed he had been torturing kittens to death.
After the horses were placed in their care, DAS staff had to work tirelessly, often into the night, to ensure their well-being. The rehabilitation work has paid off and the horses will be transported to the rescue Habitat for Horses in Houston this week.
While this means shelter dogs will soon have their play yard back, DAS — much like many other shelters across the nation — has struggled with overcrowded kennels and rising euthanasia rates.
As recently covered in The Dallas Express, DAS leadership is trying to gain support among the public and policymakers for a new facility to better respond to the city’s needs. The aim is to have the project be part of November’s bond election.