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Winona-area dog rescue owners accused of abusing several dogs

A bone was found lodged in one dog's trachea, which was causing her to starve to death. She ultimately was euthanized because of her health, police said.

WINONA, Texas — Managers of a Smith County dog rescue arrested last week are accused of not seeking medical care for several injured dogs and leaving the animals in an unsanitary environment, police documents show. 

Tina Loper, 53, and Eric Wayne Morris, 55, both of Winona, are charged with two counts of cruelty to a non-livestock animal (death, poisoning or serious bodily injury) and six counts of cruelty to a non-livestock animal (failure to provide for the animal). 

Loper was arrested Feb. 9 and released the same day on a $110,000 bond, while Morris was arrested Feb. 11 and released on the same bond.

According to an arrest affidavit, officers with the Smith County Precinct 4 Constable's Office on Jan. 4 came to the Dog Days Ranch and Rescue, a Winona-area property on FM 1252, and found trash and debris all over the location with several dogs roaming free. 

Most of the kennels had no water or if there was water, the container had green algae inside. Several food trays were empty, while others had moldy dog food inside. Officers also found a large amount of dog feces in the kennels, according to the affidavit.

Some of the dogs appeared to have leg injuries. Within the first set of dog kennels, officers found a dog named JoJo, who appeared to be close to death. 

The 11-month-old dog had labored breathing, an arching neck and fleas covered her body. A bone was found lodged in JoJo's trachea, which was causing her to starve to death. She ultimately was euthanized because of her health, police said.

When speaking to Pct. 4 Constable Josh Joplin, Morris said JoJo was receiving treatment for heartworms and she belonged to the animal rescue that Morris managed with Loper. 

An officer asked Morris why he did not take JoJo to the vet and he didn't have an answer. 

Morris agreed to voluntary surrendering the eight dogs with serious medical conditions, including JoJo, to the SPCA of East Texas. 

During another visit to the property, Loper told officers that, "we made a lot of mistakes." She said she was told in the past by Smith County authorities to reduce the numbers of dogs the rescue had but she didn't listen then.

Regarding not seeking treatment for the JoJo's medical issues and injuries, Loper told police she should have taken her to the vet, but she did not. 

According to the documents, seven other dogs had injuries and medical conditions but records showed they did not receive treatment from a veterinarian.

Loper also agreed to voluntarily surrendering the animals to do what's best for the dogs, the affidavit stated. 

RELATED: SPCA of East Texas seeking supplies, fosters after taking in more than 100 puppies

RELATED: Officials seize 87 animals, including 3 dead puppies, at Hunt County property

 

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