ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – When the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office got a call of a foul smell coming from a seemingly normal home on Texas Highway 294, they never could have guessed what they would find.
After arriving at the house, 23 horses and other livestock were found dead and badly decomposed on the 240-acre Dear Ranch.
On Monday, the owners arrived in court for a hearing that would decide if the 95 surviving animals would be awarded back to the Dear family or stay in the custody of the state.
The Dear’s lawyer asked Captain Ginger Lively, who discovered the animals, if the animals were seized because of the animal’s welfare on the property.
“At some particular time, those other 23 animals were alive too,” said Captain Lively.
In total, authorities found 31 dead animals at the vacant home.
The Dear’s say it was confusion between them and a hired fencing contractor that accidentally locked the animals into an enclosure, making it impossible for them to reach a water source.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Gary Thomas awarded the living animals to the state. The Dear family will pay for the storage, and veterinarian care of the animals until they are auctioned off.
Brenda Beazley with the Anderson County Humane Society says there’s no excuse for this much loss.
“Yes, there are incidences that can happen, they’re very sad, but ultimately, it’s your responsibility to see that that animal is taken care of with food and water and shelter,” said Beazley.
The Dear family let Judge Thomas know they will be filing an appeal, causing the costs of court fees and animal upkeep to continue hiking. It still remains to be seen if the couple will be facing any criminal charges in the multiple animal deaths.
This is a developing story and we will update as more information becomes available.