The Williamson County sheriff’s office is investigating the deaths of 14 dogs, cats and birds discovered Tuesday night at a rural home in Georgetown where officials also rescued 40 other animals.
Animal control officers found two dead dogs locked in crates inside the house, four dead cats in a closet without food or water, and dead chickens and ducks in the yard, Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody said at a news conference Wednesday.
The animals that were rescued were 15 dogs, three cats, 18 chickens, a pea hen, two cockatiels and a parakeet, Chody said. They were taken to the Williamson County Canine Corral and the Williamson County Animal Shelter.
A court hearing is set for early August to determine the custody of the animals, Chody said
The owner has 15 counts of nonlivestock cruelty to animals and cruel confinement pending against him, the sheriff said. Each count is a state jail felony punishable by up to two years behind bars. Chody declined to release the owner’s name but said he had not been arrested as of Wednesday afternoon.
A family member of the owner alerted authorities about the animals after going to feed them Tuesday and finding several of them dead at the home at 600 Private Road 914, Chody said.
The family member was trying to feed the animals because the owner was in the hospital for two days, the sheriff said.
The dead dogs were so decomposed that they would have died long before the owner spent two days in the hospital, Chody said. He said the owner had admitted to shooting two dogs that were after his livestock, but Chody said he did not know if those were the two dogs found dead in the home. At least two chickens had been decapitated, the sheriff said.
The 15 dogs that were rescued were infested with fleas, Chody said. One of the dogs, a standard poodle, was missing fur and needed medical treatment, he said.
“The poodle looked the most miserable,” Chody said.
The other dogs rescued included five corgis, four Chihuahuas, a Great Dane and four of her puppies, said Cheryl Schneider, director of the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter.
Chody said he had initially tweeted Tuesday night that more than 50 animals were dead at the property because the darkness made it hard for officials to count the bodies.
The sheriff said he did not know if the owner was hoarding or breeding the animals.
“It’s too early to say what it is we have,” Chody said. “The house was all in disarray. … There’s evidence to show there was some neglect here.”
The owner was the only person who lived at the house, the sheriff said.
TCB Landscaping has an office and several homes for employees next to the property where the animals were found.
“We’re in shock,” said Annette Compton, who works in the company’s office. She said she had met the man who owned the animals. “It seemed like he cared for the animals, he looked after them,” she said.
Joe Freshour, a foreman for the landscape company who lives on the property, said the animals’ owner would come over to the landscaping business sometimes looking for his Great Pyrenees dogs who had wandered over.
“It’s just astounding; I didn’t know he had that many animals,” Freshour said.
Chody said the seized animals have strained the capacity at the Canine Corral and the animal center. He asked the public to consider adopting some of the animals at the shelter.