Winona Dog Rescue owners charged with animal cruelty

WINONA, Texas (KETK) – Two people have been arrested for animal cruelty in Winona, following the Jan. 21 seizure of 38 dogs from a property, which was initially a rescue.

Tina Loper, 53, and Eric Morris, 55, have been charged with eight counts of cruelty to animals other than farm animals, with two of those charges being felonies due to the deaths of the dogs. Loper was arrested and released on Wednesday on a collective bond of $100,000. Morris was arrested and released on Friday, also on $100.00 collective bond.

According to the affidavit, the location was initially a rescue called Dog Days Ranch and Rescue which turned into a hoarding situation. On January 4, Smith County 4 County Constable’s Office was notified that animal control was on site on FM 1252 for a welfare check of numerous dogs. Constable Josh Joplin said animal control was having a peace officer attend the scene to determine if there was enough evidence of animal cruelty.

Upon arrival, the affidavit stated that the majority of the dogs on the property either had no water; or no clean water, empty food bowls, and lived with large amounts of old and new droppings in their enclosures. One of the kennels had the entire roof inside which the affidavit stated restricted the dog’s movements and posed a danger to the animal.

According to the affidavit, eight dogs on the property suffered from serious health issues such as:

  • Fever
  • Heartworms
  • Hookworms
  • Open wound
  • famine
  • Distended abdomen (bloating)
  • Lethargy
  • Tooth problems
  • Leg injuries
  • Lice or fleas

Constable Joplin contacted the SPCA for availability of injured or sick dogs and Morris agreed to release dogs with illnesses or injuries.

On January 10, Constable Joplin met with Loper for a follow-up visit and during the visit she said “we made a lot of mistakes”. According to the affidavit, prior to the visit, she said several rescues would be on hand picking up dogs. Loper said she hasn’t taken in any more dogs, but was told to lower her numbers by Smith County and didn’t, but would.

She reportedly asked about one of the dogs named JoJo and officials let her know that the dog had been euthanized. She agreed to voluntarily give up the rest of the animals and said she would do what was best for the dogs.

The dogs were turned over to the Humane Society of the United States and taken to Maryland. Photos of the seizure of the dogs are shown below.

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