A large group of collies are beginning to lead better lives after a judge asked a rescue group to take them late last week. The rescue volunteers caring for the dogs are dealing with far more than they were told to expect, but are gracefully handling the many dogs and puppies from the large seizure.
Houston Collie Rescue, Inc. is caring for nearly 100 dogs taken from the home of a Tomball, Texas woman. The rescue group was asked to get about 35 dogs on Friday but found many more on site, with still more dogs discovered inside the home. The group says they have 93 of the dogs so far and they know of at least 4 more hiding on the property.
The rescue volunteers, accompanied by attorneys, showed up at the home and property of licensed optometrist Elaine Kmiec in the 14200 block of Alice Road in Tomball at about 2:30 p.m. on Friday to remove the dogs after a judge granted a federal court order. The dogs were taken from Kmiec’s home in connection with a bankruptcy case.
U.S. District Judge David Jones signed an order Friday allowing Houston Collie Rescue to remove dogs from Kmiec’s property. Jones asked the group’s president, Vickey Willard, if the organization was able to take on 35 dogs.
Kmiec had testified in federal court, saying that she was in possession of about 35 dogs, but the rescue volunteers found many more, all kept in what they and the attorneys call deplorable conditions.
After finding about 65 dogs in the yard, the rescuers were told there were no dogs in the house. Another 35 dogs, including puppies, were found in the house.
On Friday morning, Jones asked the group’s president, Vickey Willard, if the organization was able to take on 35 dogs.
“That’s what she claimed she had,” Willard said Saturday. “When we left, there were 90-plus dogs, including two pregnant females. We’re still counting today.”
“She says she is a breeder, but she does not sell dogs,” explained Texas dog attorney Zandra Anderson, who was on site at the seizure. “They smell to high heaven. A lot of them are covered in urine and feces. Some of them have mats as big as baseballs.”
It took about 8 hours to get the dogs.
“Every time I got a batch out, I’d go back deeper [into the property],” Willard said. “It kept going on and on. I didn’t think we’d ever get them all.”
The dogs were found to have ear infections, demodectic mange, overgrown nails, and “hot spots” due to fleas. They reeked of urine, puddles of which were found in the house.
Houston Collie Rescue posted at Facebook on Sunday, saying: “HCR folks headed home around 1:00am. I can’t tell you how hard it was to wash all the stench off. There are not enough words to describe what we saw smelled, endured.”
The court order took Kmiec to task for her neglect of the dogs, stating: “Most egregious is the fact that her actions endanger the lives of 35 animals who cannot speak or protect themselves. The court cannot condone the use of the bankruptcy process to inflict harm on undeserving creatures.”
Judge Jones ordered the dogs to remain in the care of Houston Collie Rescue until further notice.
Kmiec had dogs seized previously, in 2006 and 2007.
A post at HCR’s Facebook on Sunday, August 30 gives this update: “A great group of volunteers showed up this morning to help feed, groom, and help out. When I left after 3 1/2 hours, we had bathed 40 out of the 93 collies. We’ve found some more that need quick vetting (cysts, eye infections, etc.) but I have to say these are some of the sweetest dogs I have ever seen. While some of them were not used to being on leash at all, all of them allowed us to give them pills and groom them without a fuss.”
HCR posted at Facebook yesterday, saying: “We had another long, busy day. We finished bathing all the dogs and began the process of identifying, assessing medical needs, microchipping, and recordkeeping. One of our pregnant Moms gave birth to 13 pups so the total is now 106. A volunteer vet helped whelp the pups and they are doing well. Thank you to all the awesome volunteers, and a special thanks to Houston Sheltie Sanctuary, what a great crew.”
HCR updated again at Facebook earlier today, with this: “Yesterday we finished identifying and recording every single dog. There have been 4 shy dogs hiding in igloos during every head count so the count of 93 rescued is actually 97 plus 13 new pups for a total of 110. Whew! This week our priority is gaining full custody rights to the collies through the legal system. Donations are much needed and appreciated.”
Houston Collie Rescue is accepting donations via PayPal to help with the dogs’ care. Donations can be made online with the direct PayPal link, or through the PayPal button at the group’s website. Otherwise, donations can be sent to Houston Collie Rescue, P.O. Box 526, Stafford, TX 77497-0526.
Houston Collie Rescue also put out a call for volunteers, especially to help with bathing and other intake procedures.
KHOU reported on the story on August 30 – see video below. While the video report is stamped with an earlier estimate of 65 dogs, the print version of the story has been updated to the revised number of 93 dogs.
Special thanks go out to our friend Belinda of the Facebook page Animals Are Not Garbage for her suggestion that we share this story with you in order to get the word out on the large seizure and Houston Collie Rescue’s great work in helping the dogs.