Owner of Texas City animal shelter Whiskerville facing animal cruelty charges

January 19, 2012 3:40:53 AM PST
Two people whose jobs are to care for animals at a local shelter are charged with animal cruelty.

The owner and employee from the Texas City facility are charged with four counts each of animal cruelty. The woman who turned them in says it appeared no one had checked on the cats for days.

On a website, there are pages of furry faces and names to go with them. Anson, Jared, Erin are waiting to be adopted at Whiskerville Animal Sanctuary in Texas City.

"I was heartbroken because I never dreamed it was that bad," said the woman who called authorities.

She asked not to be identified but says it appeared the cats were also waiting to be cared for.

"I'll be honest with you, I didn't know there were dead cats when I called, I just said there is something terribly wrong," she said.

The woman who turned the owner in only saw animals inside for days and noticed cats were not moving in a bassinet.

"All the cats were just in a big, giant circle in a pile. I tapped on the window and only two came over, so I came in and I called immediately and said there is something terribly, terribly wrong," she said.

Earlier this month, animal control found more than a dozen dead cats and hundreds more in distress.

"I knew nobody had been coming, but I didn't realize they had been suffering, that's what is so sad," the woman said.

The owner of the no-kill shelter. Wydell Dixon, doesn't dispute the conditions the cats were found in. What her attorneys argued in court, though, was it was one of her employees who let the shelter fall apart while she was gone for a month.

Prosecutors fault both of them, charging the 56-year-old founder and her 48-year-old employee Kimberly Paskert with four counts each of felony cruelty to animals. Both women turned themselves in Wednesday night.

Those who say they witnessed the conditions are actually glad to see this shelter sitting empty now.

"I'm just thankful that everybody's eyes are opened and I pray to God that she is not allowed to do that again," the woman said.

The surviving cats are being nursed back to health under the care of the state for now. If convicted, the two could spend up to two years behind bars on each count.