Leah Purcell: Is the Alleged Animal Cruelty Queen Back in Business?
Clarification: The 2012 agreed order between Montgomery County and Leah Purcell, in which Purcell surrendered 287 dogs that a judge found were "cruelly treated," bars Purcell from operating an animal shelter, refuge or rescue in Montgomery County. It does not prohibit her from boarding animals.
For more explanation, see the end of this article.
Authorities in Montgomery County are investigating if former Spindletop Dog Refuge owner Leah Purcell
is boarding dogs again,in violation of a court order. has violated a court order barring her from operating a rescue, shelter or refuge. Officials and Humane Society personnel raided her Willis property last year and seized nearly 300 dogs who had been kept in filthy conditions.
"It has been brought to our attention that there could be a violation of the court's order ...and while we are investigating that, we are continuing to move forward with the original animal cruelty investigation and hope to have that presented to the Montgomery County District Attorney very shortly," said Montgomery County Animal Control Director Tim Holifield. "At this point we are awaiting the final veterinary reports of each of the 298 animals that were seized."
The investigation was spurred by the discovery by animal rescue advocates of a website Purcell registered in August 2012, just over a month after the raid. The site, txcanineequinesolutions.us, does not list Purcell's name, or any other identifying information about the owner, or the location. A domain registry search on Wednesday listed Purcell and her current Willis address; however, as of today, the address was changed to a Marble Falls location. (Ever clever, Purcell also changed her contact info from "email@example.com" to "firstname.lastname@example.org.")
When we called the number provided on Wednesday, the woman who answered said she's not Leah Purcell, so, uh, there you go. (The phone number has also been changed since Wednesday).
Also removed from the site since Wednesday was a link to Purcell's civil attorney, Zandra Anderson. Both Anderson and Purcell have ignored the Houston Press's repeated attempts to learn the fates of dogs who are still unaccounted for.
We'll hopefully have more soon.
Further clarification: Many of the dogs Purcell claimed to have been "boarding" at her Spindletop Dog Refuge were dogs that remained in her custody for up to four years after she told the owners the dogs had been adopted -- a practice that is not consistent with general boarding services.
Purcell would not be in violation of the court order if she is legitimately boarding animals.
Another condition of the court order is that Purcell "cooperates with Montgomery County and Montgomery County Animal control, via her attorney, so that any rightful owners of any of the 287 dogs may timely get possession of their dogs."
As noted in this week's story, Purcell and her attorney, Zandra Anderson, have refused to abide by that condition in at least two cases. In one case -- eight months after the Spindletop raid -- the owner of a dog "boarded" at Spindletop still has not heard from Purcell or Anderson.
This is an e-mail sent on October 24, 2012 -- two months after Purcell registered a Web site for a new animal care business -- from the Houston Press to Purcell, Anderson and Montgomery County Animal Control Director Tim Holifield.
I'm writing you on the record to see if you will disclose the whereabouts of a pit bull named Sophocles who Michelle Anderson left in Spindletop's care on April 27th. According to Michelle, Leah told her that Sophocles was adopted by "friends of friends" in Dallas.
If you are willing to say what happened to Sophocles, I will need a response from you by 5 p.m. today, Wednesday, Oct. 24. Please let me know if you need more information, although Leah Purcell should still have the paperwork. Your response, or lack thereof, will be noted in future articles.
It was sent after the dog's owner contacted the Press after not getting a response from Purcell or Anderson as to whether her dog was alive or was one of at least 30 who fatally overheated in a Spindletop building. To this date, the owner has no idea what happened to her dog.