Wednesday, July 24, 2024


Purcell, Leah Denise

Montgomery County Precinct 3 Constables and Harris County Precinct 4 Constables Offices executed several warrants Wednesday at 5311 Breen in Northwest Harris County and arrested Leah Purcell.

It has been almost two-years since the raid on Spindletop Dog Rescue  in Willis, Texas.

On July 18, 2012, Montgomery County Animal Control, with the assistance of several law enforcement offices, including the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Humane Society of the United States, moved in on the Spindletop Dog Rescue on Calvary Road to rescue the hundreds of dogs (mostly Pit Bulls) that were allegedly being kept in inhuman conditions.

Although the warrant service occurred early in the day, it wasn’t until 6 a.m. the following morning that all dogs had been removed. Seeing the sheer scale of the operation, law enforcement saw it fit to contact the HSUS and seek assistance. The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organization, backed by 11 million Americans.

Katie Jarl, HSUS Texas State Director, called the establishment a ¨large scale hoarding situation¨ and conditions ¨absolutely deplorable.¨

“We came on-scene and found conditions were absolutely horrible,” Jarl said. “Many (of the dogs) were living in cramped, stacked cages without access to clean water, veterinary care, and certainly without access to any outdoor enrichment.”

Jarl said many of the kennels and cages were so small that dogs were unable to stand or turn around. Many dogs were lying in their own waste, trapped there for 23 to 24 hours a day without access to food. Inside one of five buildings on the property, a two-story house, investigators found around 80 more dogs in the same conditions. The smell was said to be so strong and that even seasoned investigators were forced to step out of the rooms to take a breath.

Holifield said the investigation resulting in the massive seizure was the result of complaints lodged by former volunteers and workers. One particularly gruesome allegation claimed that a recent heat wave had killed many poorly sheltered dogs, all of whom were buried in a mass grave on the property. As of this writing, that allegation has not been proven or disproven, with the focus being on rescuing the live dogs that survived.

The Constable claimed veterinarians investigating the animals’ conditions found many reasons for alarm, including malnourished, emaciated animals, and some with urine scalded feet from being forced to stand in their own waste for days at a time. One dog’s feet were so scalded it was laying on its back in its own urine in feces, presumably to take the pain off of its feet, he said.

“Several showed signs of recently giving birth,” Holifield said. “We don’t know where the puppies are – we’ll continue to evaluate that also.”

All dogs were then transported to the Montgomery County Fairgrounds

After almost a month all the dogs had either been returned to their owners or taken by one of several rescue organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States, Red Rover and others. The owner, Ms. Purcell, was allowed to keep eleven dogs which she had proven to be her own.

Many owners explained they had a long relationship with Purcell, the owner of Spindletop. Most were paying $750 a quarter to board and evaluate the dogs and claimed the property had always seemed very nice and clean during their visits. However, they also claimed to have been restricted to the area in front of the small house and nowhere else on the property. They said at least one of the buildings close to the front was closed on account of it housing aggressive animals.

Several veterinarians were involved in evaluating and documenting each dog that had been moved to the Montgomery County Fairgrounds for the operation. As of July 1, 2013, almost a year after the raid many of these reports have already made it to Holifield’s desk. However, one veterinarian, Dr. Woolley, had not returned the evaluations. The records were desperately needed for Holifield to turn the case over to the Montgomery County District Attorney for possible prosecution. At the time Holifield’s calls were not been returned by Woolley.

Holifield finally received the last of the necessary records just weeks ago and was able to put the large volumes of documents in the District Attorney’s hands.

With that information, one felony animal cruelty warrant and four misdemeanor warrants for animal cruelty were issued.

Just last week Purcell was arrested on FM 1960 by a DPS Trooper after he stopped her on a traffic offense and discovered she had an open warrant for illegal dumping in Montgomery County. This stemming from the Spindletop operation also.

She went before of a Harris County Judge and was then be transported to the Montgomery County Jail.





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