Nine dogs at the center of an animal cruelty case in Palestine were awarded to the local animal shelter, BARC, The Humane Society, during a court hearing held Wednesday morning intended to determine who would obtain custody of the animals.
Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace James Westley presided over the hearing, in which the Anderson County Sheriff's Office requested ownership of the animals to award to the local shelter.
The court heard testimony from Anderson County Animal Control Officer Colten Covington, who worked the scene where several dogs were allegedly discovered living loose inside a residence on Anderson County Road 415, just north of Palestine. He was questioned by Anderson County Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Clark.
Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor told the Herald-Press previously that the animals were living in “deplorable” conditions.
Covington said an initial investigation of the property took place Friday, Feb. 28 following a call concerning the welfare of animals at the residence.
He reported seeing “at least 20” animals on the property, looking sickly and malnourished. After returning with search and seizure warrants the following Monday, Covington said “we were able to catch nine,” though others have not yet been recovered.
“They were very scared. We couldn't get our hands on them,” he said of the unrecovered animals.
Covington presented visual evidence that showed the remains of animals that had died on the property – “dog bones,” he noted – along with photographs of a hole in a door that had been chewed out from the inside, and scenes from within the residence “covered in feces” and urine to depict conditions in which the animals were living.
Owner Terry Glenn Tawater, 46, of Palestine was detained by deputies in the Neches area on March 6 following the investigation and was charged with animal cruelty, a Class A Misdemeanor.
Covington said the seized animals were then taken to the local Humane Society for food, shelter and medical services.