ANDERSON COUNTY (KYTX) - A disturbing case of animal abuse out of the Palestine area has a neighborhood in disgust.
A former East Texas police officer is arrested, and charged with multiple counts of abuse to more than a dozen dogs found at a house he owned on county road 415.
Sheriff's deputies have taken at least 9 dogs from the house. They told us when they went inside there were inches of feces and urine on the ground, and the dogs had chewed out the walls to escape. It's one of the worst animal abuse cases they've seen.
At first glance, it doesn't look like anything out of the ordinary, but inside, dogs were living in squalor among their own waste and skeletal remains of other dogs.
Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor first entered the house Monday and calls the conditions deplorable, saying he couldn't spend more than 20 second inside.
The home belongs to 46-year-old Terry Glenn Tawater, who Sheriff Taylor confirms used to work for the Overton Police Department, and went through a portion of training at Palestine Police Department but never graduated the program.
Thursday, Tawater spent the day on the other side of the bars. While deputies were searching for him with a warrant Thursday afternoon, they saw him driving and arrested him.
It's all a shock to neighbor and dog lover Greg Bell.
"I jog by that house every day and I have seen numerous dogs there," he says.
He had no idea what was going on inside.
"It's pathetic," he says. "It's almost unfathomable to me. That's about all I can say. It's sickening."
Sheriff Taylor says the property is part of Tawater's divorce , so investigators are trying to figure out whether his former wife is partially to blame for the animal abuse as well.
If so, another arrest could soon follow.
The sheriff says there are more dogs here at the house but they're very tough to catch. Deputies have tried to lure them out and have set up traps.
The dogs that have been rescued so far are now at the Anderson County Humane Society in Palestine. Most have mange and are being treated.
Sheriff Taylor says the home they were living in is in such bad condition it will have to be demolished.