Update: First Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant tells us that one felony count of animal cruelty has been filed in addition to the four misdemeanor charges. A felony count is punishable by a maximum of two years in state jail and/or a $10,000 fine.
Former Spindletop Dog Refuge owner Leah Purcell has been charged with four misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.
Filed July 15, the charges stem from the shuttered dog refuge where, in 2012, local authorities and Humane Society of the United States personnel seized nearly 300 dogs who they say were kept in filthy, appalling conditions. Thirty-eight other dogs allegedly suffocated to death in a building on a property a few months before the raid.
The charges were filed two days before the expiration of the statute of limitations.
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Purcell, 48, was indicted in April on a felony charge of illegal commercial dumping. She was arrested July 5 after the driver of a car she was riding in was pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt. She was taken to the Montgomery County Jail and bonded out the following day.
HSUS Texas Division Director Katie Jarl told us earlier this week that "our team worked tirelessly for months to assist local law enforcement with the rescue, care, and placement of nearly 300 dogs living in squalor at Spindletop in 2012, and we stand ready to assist the District Attorney's office on the prosecution of this case." [See below for an updated statement].
The charges each carry a maximum penalty of one year in jail and/or a $4,000 fine. We hope to have more details soon.
In a new statement regarding the charges, Jarl says: "The atrocious conditions at Spindletop still haunt me to this day. Our team spent months on the ground to assist local law enforcement with the rescue, care, and placement of nearly 300 dogs, and with documenting the evidence needed to prosecute this case. We are grateful that the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office has moved forward with the charges, and we hope Purcell is charged to the fullest extent allowed by law."