COOPER — A Delta County dog owner warned in January about the care of his animals is again under scrutiny by animal activists who accuse him of inadequate care although local law enforcement say he’s abiding by the law.
Todd Smith, a Garland resident, in January brought the Delta County Sheriff’s Office’s attention to what he described as poor living conditions for nearly two dozen dogs provided by their owner, Walter Greer of Cooper. Although an investigation was launched, Smith said he was displeased with the lack of action taken by the sheriff’s office. Now, he’s returned to Delta County to again attempt to make a change.
“Back in January, (Greer) had 22 dogs living in horrible, horrible conditions,” Smith said. “I took 11 of them and asked Walter to promise me not to get any more.”
At that time, Delta County Sheriff Ricky Smith told The Paris News that law enforcement “tried to address this issue with the assistance of the SPCA and Hopkins County animal control, but found no violations of state law.” Greer was issued a warning that included the steps he needed to take to improve the care of his dogs in order to avoid breaking the law, the sheriff said.
Both the sheriff and the animal activist returned to Greer’s property this week, where Todd Smith said he found Greer again had 23 dogs. He posted several photos of his findings on his Facebook page, including descriptions stating the dogs were found outside in cages with some looking malnourished. He again took several dogs off Greer’s hands, even paying for some, and he began seeking new homes for them.
“They’re kept outside in this heat, and they’ve got about an inch of water in a five-gallon bucket, and the water they do have is green,” Todd Smith said. “He had danes and mastiffs that looked pretty bad, but they didn’t look as bad (as the dogs did in January).”
Sheriff Smith said he brought a veterinarian with him when he visited Greer’s property, and the vet determined the treatment of the dogs didn’t meet the Texas definition of cruelty to animals.
“We were looking for the necessary food, water and shelter requirements, and he did meet those requirements,” Sheriff Smith said, adding Greer had adhered to the warning issued in January. “The dogs looked 100% better than they did in January.”
While Sheriff Smith said he would like to see the dogs’ treatment continue to improve, there’s nothing he can do for Todd Smith on the matter because Greer is not violating state law.
“I definitely don’t like the way the dogs are being raised either,” the sheriff said. “But what I like and what the law says constitutes animal cruelty are two different things.”
Todd Smith said he will continue working to find the dogs better homes.
“We will go the extra mile to find these dogs new homes,” he said. “The first route we take is education, and we try to say, ‘Hey, this is how you should be treating these animals and we can even buy them food and help you.’ … The next route is the legal route. But when that doesn’t work, we don’t give up.”
Greer did not return calls seeking comment on the matter.
Abuse reports in Texas can result in criminal charges up to a felony. Animal cruelty includes torturing an animal; failing to provide food, care or shelter; abandoning an animal; transporting or confining an animal in a cruel manner; killing, seriously injuring or poisoning an animal; causing an animal to fight with another; or seriously overworking an animal, according to state law.
Animal cruelty in Texas is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Neglect is a misdemeanor until the third offense, when it becomes a felony.