SPCA gains possession of 1,000 neglected animals

HOUSTON Justice of the Peace Armando Rodriguez found that the animals had been cruelly treated and ordered Juan and Berta Gracia, the owners of the animals, to pay the HSPCA $18,166 for medical and housing costs incurred to date.

The judgment came after five days of evidence and testimony that began on July 23.

Linda S. Geffin, Chief of the Special Prosecutions Unit of Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan's office, represented the State in the proceedings. The Gracias invoked their Fifth Amendment right to refuse to give testimony that might incriminate them and did not testify at the hearing.

"These animals were rescued from deplorable, horrific conditions, and many lacked proper food and shelter as required by law," Geffin said. "The Gracias' attorney said they treated these animals like their children. However, the animals did not have adequate medical care, food, shelter, or water."

Evidence from the hearing showed that the cages that housed the animals were lined with waste, spider webs and old food. Hundreds of animals were without water and food. Some of the animals were dead or close to dying.

Geffin said that the County Attorney's investigation found the Gracias were likely breeding the animals for sale at flea markets.

County Attorney Vince Ryan said, "This case represents our office's continuing commitment to the protection of animals from abuse and neglect."

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