Responders Find Man Dead in Suspected Puppy Mill

A call that began as a welfare check for the Montague County Sheriffs Office escalated Wednesday as deputies found not only the body of a 73-year-old man, but pens housing a suspected “puppy mill” with nearly 100 dogs.

Sheriff Paul Cunningham said his office was contacted Wednesday afternoon by family members of Jack Dempsey Beasley, who said they had been unable to contact him for several days. The family said they talk to him regularly on the phone.

After arriving at 870 Jackson Road, the deputies found Beasley dead in a mobile home located next to a vacant house. Emergency medical personnel also responded and the sheriff said they had to cut a larger opening in the mobile home to get inside and remove the man because of an accumulation of debris and other items inside.

Beasley’s body was sent for an autopsy. The sheriff believes the death was from natural causes and Beasley may have been dead since Monday.

“He did have some medical problems, but there are no signs of foul play,” Cunningham said. “So at this point, we are assuming natural causes.”

Late Thursday morning, the sheriff said the preliminary cause of death has been ruled heat exhaustion by the medical examiner, but a final determination will not be available until the autopsy results are complete.

Beasley lived on the property alone. The mobile home was run down and while it had electricity, deputies found only a fan for cooling and a radio.

The rural property is located north of Bowie off U. S. 82, near Old Bowie Lake. There is a vacant house, the mobile home where Beasley was reportedly living, a second mobile home and two sets of animal pens. The pens were located along the south side of the house.

Deputies found more than 90 dogs in these pens and most had no water on Wednesday.

Cunningham said the breeds range from Chihuahuas and bloodhounds, to French bulldogs and Boston terriers. They also found several dead dogs outside the main pens and some decomposing dog carcasses had been put into empty dog food bags and placed in large barrels.

“It certainly is what we would term a ‘puppy mill,'” Cunningham said. “We are not sure how long it has been going on. We found some records, but it is an investigation that just began.” The Humane Society of North Texas was contacted Wednesday and made plans to pick up the animals Thursday morning. Arriving with two vans and a large air-conditioned trailer, they had stacks of pet carriers for the dogs to go to the society’s Fort Worth facility.

Tammy Hawley, operations director, agreed this situation qualified as a puppy mill.

“The overall needs of the animals were not being met,” Hawley said. “There was indiscriminate breeding with animals roaming free; it is definitely in that category of a puppy mill.”

The staff and volunteers quickly got organized, walking through the pens to make lists of the dogs, their gender and breed, and to start assessing their conditionandneeds. A total of 95 dogs were documented. Hawley said she would hope some of them would be available for adoption as soon as today, but there were a significant number that would require rehabilitation and the society would rely on its partners to help in that area.

Along with the dogs, the s heriff’s office seized three donkeys found on the property. Ownership of the two females and one male donkey is unclear, but Cunningham said they also were in poor condition with extremely long hooves and low body weight. Cowboys who assist the sheriff’s office in gathering stray animals arrived later in the afternoon to herd the trio of donkeys.

The Humane Society of North Texas is supported by donations and these incidents tax its resources. If you would like to make a monetary donation or a supply donation, or help foster or adopt an animal, visit the society’s website at www.hsnt.org.

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