Houston SPCA and the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, Sept. 1, rescued dozens of animals from a home on CR 401 in the Old River area of south Liberty County. The decaying remains of a donkey in the driveway of the home was only part of the impetus for the seizure.
A Liberty County sheriff’s deputy was attempting to make contact with the female resident, Claudia Carlton, on Monday to inquire about her plans for disposing of the donkey’s remains, when she reportedly fired upon the deputy and created a standoff with authorities that lasted for several hours.
After her arrest in the early morning hours on Tuesday for Aggravated Assault of a Public Servant and Cruelty to Livestock, and her subsequent incarceration in the Liberty County Jail with bonds totaling $305,000, the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office began taking steps to ensure the welfare of the animals on Carlton’s property.
On Wednesday, LCSO posted a civil seizure warrant notice on Carlton’s property and returned the next day with Houston SPCA investigators to collect the animals.
According to Houston SPCA Chief Cruelty Investigator Adam Reynolds, they found two horses, two donkeys, 13 to 15 goats, one dog and dozens of fowl, including ducks, peacocks, chickens, guineas and geese.
The hooved animals were suffering from laminitis, suggesting they had not received proper hoof care, and bags of corn appeared to be the only sustenance for all the animals, Reynolds said.
All the animals will be under the care of Houston SPCA veterinarians until a judge decides in a civil hearing if the animals should be returned to Carlton or awarded to the Houston SPCA. If Carlton loses the case, she will have 10 days to appeal. A judge may also determine that Carlton is responsible for the Houston SPCA’s veterinary care costs if the animals are to remain in her custody.