SPCA Shocked After Animals Ordered Returned to Owner

Strange ending to animal cruelty case

By Eric Kreindler
|  Thursday, Mar 25, 2010  |  Updated 5:30 PM CDT
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SPCA Shocked After Animals Ordered Returned to Owner

SPCA of Texas

The SPCA of Texas seized 63 Longhorn cattle and three donkeys from a property in Van Zandt County. Because of a prosecutor's error, the animals have been returned to their owner.

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Animals that were seized in a case of alleged animal cruelty will be returned to a Van Zandt County man because of a procedural mistake by the district attorney's office.

Attorneys discovered the mistake during jury selection and reached an agreement to return three donkeys and 63 cattle to the owner. Under the agreement, the Van Zandt County Sheriff's Department will visit the property to monitor the animals' condition over the coming months.

The SPCA of Texas said five cattle on the property died Feb. 26 of prolonged malnutrition. Investigators reported seeing approximately 50 dead Longhorns on the property.

Investigators said the animal's owner was glad the animals were being removed. He told them he had been out of town and had paid someone to care for the animals.

"The condition that these animals are in did not happen overnight; it took months," said Ann Barnes, of the SPCA of Texas. "It will take months -- and a lot of good food and care -- to get them back into condition."

Maura Davies of the SPCA of Texas said the decision to return the animals was "shocking."

"We are hopeful the animal's owner will work to nurse these animals back into good health," she said. "We believe the sheriff of Van Zandt County will continue to monitor the situation very closely."

The animals have been cared for at the SPCA's McKinney facility since being seized on Feb. 26.

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