Update -- June 27: Katie Jarl, Texas director of the Humane Society of the United States has given us a statement that makes us even more puzzled about what has taken Holifield so long. She tells us in an email that "part of our assistance involved documenting the condition of the dogs through medical exams and photographs. These records were organized in binders and included each animal's individual medical exam and multiple photographs....of all obvious injuries. Every photo shows the animal and their unique identifying number. This documentation was turned over to the country directly following the seizure."
|The clock is ticking.|
Moreover, Jarl says, "Final documentation -- the expert veterinary statement -- was given to the county more than one year ago."
She adds: "The HSUS believes the evidence collected warrants cruelty charges and has reached out on several occasions since the seizure to offer further assistance." Specifically, she says, "We spoke with Holifield on multiple occasions and each time reiterated to let us know if we could be of further assistance regarding the case."
If it's true that Holifield had well-organized medical reports and photographs shortly after the seizure and has been sitting on expert veterinary testimony for more than a year, what could possibly account for this delay?
Update -- June 26: We heard back from Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant, who tells us "Our office has aggressively prosecuted animal abuse cases (for example the donkey dragging case) over the last few years, and we will review the Spindletop case with the same eye. We cannot review it, however, until we get a completed investigation. We look forward to reviewing that offense report when it is referred to our office. I will reach out to [investigator Tim Holifield's] office this morning to see if there is anything our office can do to expedite the investigation."
We don't believe the January 2014 conviction of Marc Saunders for dragging a donkey behind his SUV is analogous to the Spindletop case. In that case -- which took 15 months to go to trial -- the animal survived, and the physical evidence and witnesses statements were overwhelming. We find it inconceivable that any prosecutor could actually lose such a case. In a complex case like Spindletop, involving alleged mistreatment of hundreds of dogs over a period of years, and an allegation of 38 dogs actually baking to death in a building, a little more investigative and prosecutorial effort might be required.
Update: We want to point out that the statute of limitations for misdemeanor animal cruelty charges is two years. However, a state jail felony charge has a three-year statute of limitations.
If Montgomery County authorities wish to file animal cruelty charges against Spindletop dog refuge owner Leah Purcell, they only have three weeks left: July 17 marks the expiration of the two year statute of limitations.
That will be the anniversary of the day sheriff's deputies and personnel from the Humane Society of the United States seized nearly 300 dogs from Purcell's facility in Willis, where authorities say the dogs were found living in filthy conditions. Investigators also learned that approximately 38 dogs asphyxiated in a building on the property that lacked air conditioning. More »