Willis, TX: The Facebook page Spindletop Missing and Dead Dogs is still begging for answers. Rescuers and average citizens have responded in disbelief and sadness to the raid and seizure at 11797 Calvary Road July 17 of last year.
From the Spindletop Refuge website, "Leah Purcell has single-handedly owned and operated Spindletop for fifteen years. She has worked hard to build Spindletop's positive reputation with local law enforcement, animal control, shelters and other rescues, district attorneys and breed fanciers both locally and across the nation.
According to Houston Press article "No Sanctuary at Spindletop,"The 298 dogs removed from Spindletop were transported to a temporary shelter at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds just outside Conroe."
"Fueled by betrayal, animal welfare advocates dug into Purcell's past to find out if the last 20 years had been a sham. Why had she lied about dogs being adopted? Was she a common hoarder, or was it something more sinister? Also, how could so many rescue groups have been unaware of what was actually going on at Spindletop?"
"Due to the possibility of criminal charges, Purcell and Anderson aren't talking. They refuse to tell some people if their dogs are alive or if they were among the 38 allegedly rotting in a mass grave. And a Houston Press investigation of Purcell, including an examination of court records, financial statements, archived e-mails, and interviews with former friends and rescue associates only creates more questions, the biggest one being: How did someone who devoted her life to saving dogs come to this?"
Time has passed and other than a dog or two posted on the Facebook page, people seem to have moved on.
Reported by the Houston Press, "Standing by Purcell the day of the seizure was Spindletop's attorney, Zandra Anderson, a woman who bills herself as The Texas Dog Lawyer. In the coming weeks, Anderson would deny HSUS's claims of dogs fermenting in their own waste, the hair and skin around their paws discolored from urine burns. Anderson proved proficient at denial. She was less adept at explaining why dogs Purcell said had been adopted months and years ago were plainly visible in a video of the seizure.
Anderson responded, "I am not sure where he is but he was removed long before the seizure occurred I have learned."
"Despite Anderson's early assurances to the Press that she'd speak for this story, Anderson ignored questions about the whereabouts of George and other missing dogs."
Rescuers like Tammy Lorkovic and Claudia Hoier were told by Anderson "the cost of transporting, boarding and altering the dogs would all be taken care of by a Spindletop sponsor. In an April 5 e-mail to Lorkovic, Anderson wrote, "I am so happy that these beauties are being saved! Woof!"
Lorkovic says of Anderson: "She initiated it. She solicited it. She got it financed. She facilitated it."
This was common among rescuers who trusted Spindletop Refuge with a stellar reputation spanning over thirty years. Many of the people who sent dogs to Spindletop raised the money via chip-ins and support from their communities.
"…in the courtroom of Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Trey Spikes, Leah Purcell, owner of Spindletop Refuge off Calvary Road north of Interstate 45, agreed to relinquish ownership of nearly 300 dogs to county officials after a day of emotional testimony from frustrated dog owners and Montgomery County officials. Most of the dogs are pit bulls.
Under the terms of the agreement, Purcell will be able to keep several dogs for those she has shown proof of ownership. Also, Purcell will never be able to open another animal shelter in Montgomery County."
Recently, one of the people still searching for dogs missing at Spindletop posted, "..per a recent telephone conversation with Tim Holifield, Leah Purcell is still boarding dogs....unless, and until, the forensic veterinarians' reports are received, the District Attorney is unable to file charges -- either misdemeanor or felony."
Will these missing dogs ever be located? Will charges ever be filed? What does this say about animal welfare laws?
It's suspected that hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions has been paid to Purcell through Paypal and by other means. Certainly the federal government might have interest in these dealings.
The faces of these missing dogs are haunting. The puppy Dallas with a happy smile, sitting on a quilted backseat has never been seen again. A photo of missing dog Nicholas is wearing a Santa suit. Where is Manny who was listed by Spindletop as 'adopted' on their website? Where are all of these dogs posted on Facebook Spindletop Missing and Dead Dogs?
The people who entrusted dogs to Spindletop believed what had been written about her work. They believed the courts which hired Leah Purcell as expert testimony. They believed her lawyer, Zandra Anderson.
So much about this case seems to have faded away. The question 'where are our dogs' seems to fall on dead air.
Cindy Marabito of Reunion Rescue writes the American Pit Bull Examiner stories to save lives. Every click on a story donates to the animals.
Reunion Rescue: www.reunionrescue.com
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