More than 70 animals, including donkeys, seized from home in Cypress area

CYPRESS, Texas (KTRK) -- More than 70 animals have been seized from a home in the Cypress area, according to officials.

During the seizure in the 15000 block of Grant Road, authorities rescued 27 donkeys, 41 rabbits, six horses, one mule and three dogs.

Officials said the animals are suffering from malnutrition, dehydration and a lack of proper hoof care.

"The conditions were deplorable," said Julie Kuenstle of the Houston SPCA. "There was no access to clean water, and some of the donkeys were lame from what I understand."

The Houston SPCA said multiple reports of animal cruelty involving the address came into their hotline.

Shirley Martinez said she has raised animals for 47 years.

"Horses, cows," she said, sitting on the back porch of the house that was flooded during Hurricane Harvey and where she still lives. "I raised a herd of donkeys, and then I found out I had two that were a breed from Somalia," she said.

Martinez claimed a representative from the Somalian government contracted with her to breed more of them.

"I just said you have to pay for the food," she said.

When asked if she had proof of the arrangement, she said the papers had been damaged in the flood. She also spoke of an agent named Chris.

Constable Alan Rosen's Animal Cruelty Unit was involved in both the investigation and the seizure.

"We're here to help the animals," he said, as the donkeys and horses were loaded into trucks. "It seems to me that the owner is under some medical distress, and we can get her some help if she wants to get help."
The donkeys and horses will be taken to Houston SPCA's Hempstead property for treatment and care. The rabbits, cats and dogs will be brought to the location on Portway Drive, SPCA officials said.

Martinez said she wants the animals returned, but the SPCA representative said the agency will ask for custody.

For now, the animals remain in its care.

The number of neglect charges expected to be filed against Martinez will depend on each animal's medical assessment and outcome, according to the spokesperson.
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