The Alpha Tex Kennel owners have been granted an appeal trail to get their dogs back after a Floyd County judge ruled earlier this month the dogs had been cruelly treated. As part of the appeal agreement, the owners will not have to pay the appeal bond set at more than $350,000.
Back in September around 200 dogs were seized by the Floyd County Sheriff's Office from the Alpha Tex Kennels near Lockney.
In a hearing on November 17th, Floyd County Justice of the Peace Tali Jackson ruled the dogs had been cruelly treated by the owners, Mark and Sandra Smith. Judge Jackson ruled the dogs would remain in the custody of the Humane Society of West Texas.
In addition to the dogs being taken away, the Smiths would have to pay more than $250,000 to the Humane Society for the costs of taking care of the dogs. If they wanted to appeal, another $118,000 would be tacked on, putting the bond at more than $350,000.
On November 23rd, the Smiths filed a request to waive the appeal bond, saying they didn't have enough money to pay it. Their attorney also filed a request to have Judge Jackson removed from the appeal trial. A hearing was set for December 1st to see if the Smiths would be considered indigent to waive the bond.
On Monday, Judge Jackson along with both attorneys – Donald Feare representing the State and Paul Holloway representing the Smiths – held a conference to discuss the trial.
"What was going to happen was several more hearings because of the [indigent] process, and that was just going to drag this out a good deal longer than need be," said Feare. "The easier route was just to agree that we would go forward, and there would only be one more hearing."
As part of that agreement, the Smiths will not have to pay the appeal bond to avoid other hearings in determining if they in fact could not pay it.
"We're waiting at this point for the administrative judge to appoint a judge to hear the case," said Feare.
A judge from outside of Floyd County will appointed. Once that is done, the final trial will be set. This will be a ‘trial de novo' meaning the case will start over from scratch, like the first trial never happened.
"In a short period of time I hope we will go forward with the last hearing in this matter," said Feare. "This was just more expedient for the dogs and the ongoing expenses. We can't even put the dogs in good homes until this matter is resolved, so it was the better move to go ahead and just have one more hearing as quickly as possible."
Once the judge rules on this second trial, the ruling will be final and the Smiths will not be able to appeal again.
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