Galveston Officials Give Up Fight Over Great Dane, But Are Still Mum About Cruelty Investigation

A Great Dane at the center of a custody dispute between an animal welfare group and Galveston County officials has been formally awarded to the welfare group, according to a lawyer for the New York-based Lexus Project.

Unfortunately, Nina -- who was brought injured and bloody to the Galveston County Animal Resource Center last week and is the subject of an abuse investigation -- bit a handler and vet tech after being moved from the shelter. She's now in her fourth day of a ten-day quarantine, Lexus Project lawyer Megan Penrod tells us. Neither bite required stitches, and Nina didn't even break the vet tech's skin, Penrod says.

After the Lexus Project won temporary custody of Nina last week, county officials filed a motion to quash the order of custody, saying the dog had technically been adopted by a Santa Fe woman -- and also referring to Galveston County Sheriff's Office investigation "related to the treatment of the Great Dane..."

But Penrod told us the county -- and the alleged adopter -- dropped their claims, and the Lexus Project handed Nina over to the Great Dane Rescue of Southeast Texas. Unfortunately, it was the rescue's co-founder, Judy Jones, who got bit. (Penrod says the incident occurred after the dog slipped out of her leash while getting out of the transport vehicle. Jones went to grab Nina, and that's when the dog simultaneously bit Jones's arm and defecated. The dog was literally scared shitless, and after the week she's had, we can't blame her.)

After quarantine in a Houston veterinarian's office, Nina will be released into the care of a trainer.

"She's doing great," Penrod tells us, but there's work ahead. "She's going to need some help...she's traumatized." It was a picture of a bloody Nina -- taken from within the shelter -- that triggered the subsequent custody dispute. According to a statement posted on the shelter's website, the dog injured her mouth while biting down on a catchpole used by an animal control officer.

Shelter spokesman Kurt "I Gets Paid Not to Speak, Yo" won't tell us anything about the investigation into Nina's potential abuse, or if it relates to a shelter investigation that had already been under way. Bob Boemer, a county attorney, hasn't returned our calls.

The shelter has been the subject of a cruelty investigation since at least July, when WFAA reported a shelter volunteer's allegations that overcrowding led to dogs living in -- and in some cases, drinking -- their own waste.

Past minutes from meetings of the shelter's advisory committee suggest a deteriorating facility bursting at the seams. An August meeting describes a status report from County Architect Dudley Anderson, who said that the overcrowded shelter suffered from "mechanical problems" and air conditioning units that "are only designed to maintain a temperature of 80-85 [degrees]."

However, a subsequent meeting indicates that "overcrowding conditions were resolved with recent capacity limits, 30 days stay, sponsored adoptions, and intake controls."

Anderson also stated "that the community has the problem and the shelter staff should not be blamed," according to the minutes.

Hilariously, minutes from a September 11 meeting show that County Health Department CEO Harlan "Mark" Guidry talked about "ongoing negative attacks" and "negative PR."

We don't know why Guidry complained about negative PR -- clearly, shelter officials are competently and conscientiously addressing public concerns of animal mistreatment by keeping silent. That's how you handle bad publicity, right? By being secretive?

We want to give a shout-out to attorneys for the Lexus Project, who have worked their backsides off to get Nina into a better place; and to Jones, who says she tried to get Nina released to her rescue group before this whole mess even happened, only to be ignored by shelter staff.

Call us crazy, but if there are such dedicated, hard-working animal lovers out there, you'd think county officials overseeing an overcrowded shelter might actually want to work with them, to grow a network of fosters and create a public awareness campaign.

Or, shelter officials could just keep doing the same damn thing. That seems to be working great for them.

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