Cruelty Charges in Connection with Ferris Shelter Pets

Finally we have some news on the Ferris, TX shelter pets who were taken to an undisclosed location under cover of night by shelter director James “Soaring Eagle” Vonda last month.  The news is not good:

James “Soaring Eagle” Vonda was arrested at his home in Leonard, where witnesses described squalid conditions and 65 emaciated dogs, 10 cats and a horse at the property.

Melinda Pappa, 45, Yolanda Duke, 46, and Cody Sims, 22, also were arrested at the home in the 800 block of Flanagan Road in Fannin County and jailed on animal-cruelty charges.

“The animal conditions here are very sad,” said Maura Davies, a spokeswoman for the SPCA.

Dogs nursing open wounds were left tethered, and sickly cats were running loose or cramped into pet carriers.

Piles of charred animal carcasses were found in burn barrels throughout the 6.5-acre property.

“In one you can see the top half of a cat. In one, there’s kittens,” Davies said.

This would seem to contradict Mr. Vonda – who seeks “slaves” and “submissives” online for entry into his tribe – and his account of the pets:

“They all are in very good health right now,” Vonda said in an April interview with The Dallas Morning News.

Apparently to Mr. Vonda, “very good health” is another way of saying “We’re starving them on chains and tossing them into barrels for burning”.

At least now I know why Cody Sims hasn’t left any comments on my blog lately.  I hope anyone found guilty in this cruelty case serves jail time and I wish them “very good health”.

13 thoughts on “Cruelty Charges in Connection with Ferris Shelter Pets

  1. Mr. Vonda – who seeks “slaves” and “submissives”

    Now why can’t I get anyone to explain the relevance of that even though it keeps popping into the stories? In fact, it seems to have been the “original allegation” in this case. Oh, maybe they play D&D too. Or maybe they’re into Civil War reenactments. I hear those guys are totally nuts and violent! How about the RenFair and SCA crowds? They beat each other with swords. Are they inherently suspect? Maybe we should just go back to the dark ages, well a couple of decades ago, when anyone who is gay is subject to having their bedroom door plowed down in Texas and inherently suspected of zoophilia?

    Or maybe we could stick to the pertinent facts.

    The SPCA of Texas usually puts out pictures in the media and on their website within hours. So far, they seem to be absent on this case. Media didn’t even have a wide angle shot of the property? What’s up with that?

      1. I’d accept the blackboard and show. Don’t care much for the gold coins though!

  2. Oh, yeah, these dogs are SO much worse off than in Ferris, TX where it’s SOP to shoot them after 72 hours instead of having that huge field with play barrels. Oh, my, they look SO “emaciated”, NOT.

    “Local rescuers, alarmed by what they were reading and hearing” Friends of the former/fired shelter manager perhaps? Rescue pi**ing on rescue? Using alternative lifestyle/religion as the fuel?

    “Ferris city Manager Eric Strong… made no mention of conditions at the shelter, calling reports of problems “false rumors”.” Yeah, that’d be my guess too.

    Oh, my goodness. Isn’t it TERRIBLE that they’re having to use some amount of tethering because they had to move suddenly 6 weeks ago due to the nonsense being stirred up about their personal lives. Oops, forgot, tethering and crating are still legal in Texas and obviously they’ve got plenty of open space for the dogs to romp and play. BTW, cremation of animal remains is legal and so is burial of them. In the country here, we don’t take animals to the “dump” and, frankly, there’s no purpose to taking an animal that dies or is euthanized at home to a veterinarian for disposal.

    One dog that might be underweight, one with ear problems out of 65 dogs.

    Could someone please point out something in those pictures that meets the Texas statutory definition of animal cruelty or at least points toward it?

  3. YesBiscuit, I am a fan, but I am pretty disappointed in this entry. If you look at the pictures they do not support the position of the newspaper article. IMHO, which could be wrong, the details of these people’s sex lives, while salacious, have absolutely nothing to do with animal cruelty. I would sincerely ask that you look at the pictures of the animals and see if (bearing in mind they will post the *worst* possible pictures on the website) and see if you believe they support the position of the SPCA in this matter.

    As far as burning animal carcasses in trash barrels is concerned, unfortunately we all die and remains must be disposed of. Our local shelter puts carcasses in the landfill in black garbage bags. Again IMHO this is worse than burning them. Some counties have ordinances against burial. No idea if this is one of those counties.

    1. I don’t know the details of any of these people’s sex lives, mercifully. But I will say that people soliciting online for slaves and submissives are not high on my list of those I would associate with the word “respect” which to me, is an ever shrinking commodity in our society and an important element in animal rescue. Self-respect, respect for others – human and animal – is perhaps an outdated notion to some, but I’m stuck in my old ways. WRT to the photos, that house is beyond disgusting and I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind thinking it was ok to put dogs in there while they themselves lived outside in the yard.

  4. Claiming that one can run a shelter for free is less than credible. Shame on those who gave these people the contract. Soliciting online for “slaves” and “submissives” indicates that the one doing the soliciting is into control and not into accountability. Not anyone I would want in charge of animals, who are fundamentally helpless and vulnerable to those who value extreme degrees of control over accountability. Allowing a shelter to get into the condition reported and then loading all of the animals onto a truck and skeddadling before authorities can investigate further supports the apparent aversion to accountability. From these reports, it appears that multiple animal bodies were ‘disposed of’ by burning. That is cause for concern. Why did multiple animals die on these premises?

    1. Because all animals die and when you have a large number of animals multiple animals will die. The shelter here kills 30+ every single day and throws them in the landfill. Instead of trying to treat sick animals their answer to prevent the spread of disease is to kill the sick animals.

      When you’re dealing with a population of rescued animals which came from who knows where carrying who knows what a greater percentage of animals will die than when a person keeps one or two dogs or cats in their house and knows their whole health history, takes them to get annual exams and vaccinations and vet care when they are sick. I had a Persian surrendered by the breeder to rescue and she died of a heart attack at 2 and I had a mixed breed cat I got for $10 at a feed store when I was young and stupid and didn’t know any better and I had him from when he was 8 weeks old to the day he died at 16, so you just never know.

      As far as the alternative lifestyle goes I don’t believe in discriminating against people based on their sexual preferences so I won’t even go there. In fact our nonprofit has a nondescrimination policy that includes gender, age, race, religion, size, sexual preferences, disability and probably a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember off the top of my head.

  5. I think it is clear they did not live in the yard – why would one have a mattress on the floor and clothes and dishes and a computer if one was living in the yard? If for some bizarre reason I decided to live in the yard, which is unlikely since I don’t want to be eaten by a coyote and I’m not real fond of sleeping on the ground, I would sure take my computer with me. I did not see any pictures of dogs in the house either. Maybe both of us see in pictures what we want to see, I don’t know.

    I’m sorry but I have been a part of rescue for years and have seen very little respect of any sort for anyone, just constant infighting and bickering and wasting of time that could be used to do strange things like, you know, save animal lives. Maybe in the few places that have adopted the no-kill equation the rescuers are able to pull together but I don’t live in one of those places.

    I have a friend who made a documentary about spay/neuter and it opens with her telling about how she rolled her SUV and then started fostering animals, and that it is her belief that when we rescue an animal we’re really rescuing ourselves. Maybe a lot of us are in too much need of rescue to be courteous, I honestly do not know, but I’ve never seen anything in my life like rescuers throwing other rescuers under the bus. We might as well all run for political office.

  6. Ok, I have to defend YesBiscuit’s take on this situation.

    Read this report of the situation at the shelter prior to the midnight runaway:

    I’m sorry, but this people responsible for this shelter have NO defence. ZERO.

    Not only is it unacceptable, I find it very telling that someone who would consider other human beings as good “slaves” would likely have a different idea of what constituted respect and humane care to a dog or a cat. I think it IS part of the story. We KNOW that people who abuse pets are frequently the same people who abuse people. Surely we can extrapolate that perhaps this is not the best personality for this position of authority.

    1. A slave is a type of submissive in a BSDM relationship. It is a consensual relationship; usually people into BSDM are very big on there being NO coercion, the entire thing is about trust. It has nothing to do with slaves as coerced servants or abuse. These people may have been abusive to the animals, but that has nothing to do with whether they are into BSDM or not.

  7. Oh, and @Sthrngypsy, I totally agree regarding the rescue vs. rescue vibe. I have found that everywhere I have every been, with the occasional exception of those really low funded pounds in Southern Ohio.

    Aside from that, it’s like their in direct competition with one another, and have to trouble smearing the name of another rescuer if they get a chance… regardless of whether the smear has merit or not. You’re definitely right on that count.

    1. Hamilton, my version of a personal utopia would be somewhere people can manage to work cooperatively together to save animal lives, holding hands and singing kumbayah around a campfire or going to lunch together or whatnot completely optional. We don’t have to like each other to work together for animals, which is what rescue is supposed to be about last I heard.

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