Gayle Justice, the woman arrested after the seizure of 72 animals in her home last week, has agreed to turn over all of the animals to the SPCA of Texas in Dallas and pay for all of the medical and custody expenses, said Judge Jackie Miller Jr.
Miller, a Justice of the Peace for Precinct 2, presided over a hearing Wednesday afternoon to decide who would get custody over the animals. Eleven dogs were returned to their rightful owners because they were micro-chipped, and she’ll pay a little more than $18,000 in incurred expenses so those who claimed animals don’t have to pay a dime, he said after the hearing.
“I think it turned out for the best for the animals and the owners, even for the animals because they're now in cool air, a cool climate where they’re getting food and water and so it was a win-win for the dogs and the owners,” Miller said. “And they’re getting medical attention, too. I hate that stuff like this happens, and she’ll face other charges in another courtroom for charges of animal cruelty. I’ve probably seen worse, but these animals were kept in deplorable conditions.”
Sixty-eight dogs, three cats and one parrot were taken during the execution of a search warrant at her home in the 200 block of Panorama Loop and U.S. Highway 77 exactly a week ago. Justice was arrested on a class A misdemeanor cruelty to non-livestock animals charge and was released on a $1,500 bond the same day, according to previous articles. As of press time, she had not been indicted on the charge. She ran a training facility called Maximum K-9: Remote Collar Training out of the home.
When Ellis County deputies arrived to do a welfare check July 22, they smelled a strong odor coming from the home, but the woman denied the officers access, stated an Ellis County Sheriff’s Office press release. That same day, the sheriff’s office reached out to the SPCA about several cruelly treated dogs on the property, and an SPCA team visited the site. The team ultimately decided “it was in the animals’ best interest to remove the animals,”an SPCA press release stated. So, deputies obtained a search warrant and returned last Thursday morning. Fifteen to 20 deceased animals were found in multiple bags in the backyard or on the side of the house, said Lt. James Saulter, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer, on scene.
More dogs will eventually be returned to their rightful owners, Miller said. Some owners weren’t able to attend Wednesday’s hearing, though the room was packed with about 50 people, he said. Others were on vacation when the incident happened and don’t even know their dogs are involved in the situation, he said.
Owners who think their dogs might have been seized during the incident are going to be able to go up to the SPCA of Texas in Dallas, and identify their pets through photos at no cost, Miller said. Those who might think their animals were taken by the SPCA during this incident can contact the SPCA at 214-742-7722 for information.