Law enforcement officials raided an Ellis County dog training facility Thursday morning and seized dozens of animals.
The SPCA of Texas worked with Ellis County sheriff’s deputies to remove about 70 dogs from Maximum K-9: Remote Collar Training. The business is operated out of a home off Panorama Loop near Highway 77.
Sources told FOX 4 deputies were initially called to the home for a welfare check. When they drove up, they were overwhelmed by the smell.
They returned Thursday with a search warrant and found 15-20 dead dogs in plastic bags. Others were running loose around the feces-covered property.
Maximum K-9’s website says it offers guaranteed off-leash training for dogs.
The homeowner, 70-year-old Gayle Justice, reportedly told deputies that 10 of the dogs are her own and the majority of the others are strays.
Justice sat in the searing heat on Thursday, watching as the dogs and the occasional cat came out in crates.
“I've loved dogs all my life,” she said.
Neighbors had no idea there were so many.
“When it would rain, it would smell so bad,” said neighbor Mary Castillo.
Justice says she ran a dog training and boarding company for 30 years.
It's unclear which of the animals have owners and which might've been rescues from local shelters. Ten of them are hers.
“I can't explain that,” she said regarding the dead dogs found in bags.
One thing that is clear is that Justice feels she's done nothing wrong.
“I've had visits from the police, adult protective services, every day this week,” said Justice. “Who is calling you people? I'm fine.”
The seized animals are being taken to an undisclosed location and will be cared for by the SPCA. Each animal’s health will be assessed.
Many of the animals have been described as emaciated and having hair loss.
Adult Protective Services was also called to the scene.