Hundreds of dogs seized in Texas Pit Bull sanctuary raid

Opened in 1985, Spindletop Pit Bull Refuge in Willis, Texas, was meant to be a sanctuary for society’s most misunderstood dog breed. But a raid on the facility July 17 revealed the facility was anything but for the dogs that lived — and died — there.

Dogs are removed from the Texas sanctuary; several of the animals were found in cages that were wired or welded shut.

“It was definitely not a sanctuary. Definitely not,” Brandon Louth, a former Spindletop employee, told KHOU 11 News. “These dogs were in a living hell.”

Louth, along with other former workers and volunteers, filed multiple complaints regarding the deplorable conditions at the once-respected Pit Bull rescue facility-turned hoarding nightmare. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was Louth’s description of how 38 of the dogs housed at Spindletop died in a single incident.

“The dogs had suffocated, because the building was not ventilated,” Louth told KHOU of that horrible day. “The electricity had gone off in the building, and basically I had to bury the dogs, put the dogs in sacks, and dig a mass grave for them.”

Montgomery County Animal Control coordinated the raid Tuesday alongside the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and local law enforcement agencies.

While the rescuers believed they were there to seize at most 100 dogs, a quick look at the Spindletop facilities revealed that that number was triple what they had expected. In all, 298 dogs were confiscated from the property.

“Many of them are in cramped cages — so cramped they can’t even turn around,” HSUS Texas State Director Katie Jarl described to KHOU.

In fact, during a walkthrough of the Spindletop facility, many of the dogs’ cages appeared to be wired and even welded shut.

“Many of their cages have been shut for so long, we know these dogs haven’t ever been out of their cages,” Jarl explained.

Authorities discovered shallow graves on the property as well as evidence that several of the female dogs had recently given birth, though no newborn puppies were found on site.

Determined to give the nearly 300 dogs the happy lives they deserve after the horror they endured at Spindletop, rescuers hope to adopt out all of the recovered dogs.

“The Humane Society of the United States evaluates every single dog that we rescue,” Jarl explained to the Houston Press Wednesday. “Our overall goal is most certainly adoption. And I can tell you that many of the dogs that we came across yesterday were really friendly…they were very happy to see us, and we got a few kisses.”

For more information on the Spindletop dogs, contact the Animal Farm Foundation or check out ways you can help on the “Victims of Spindletop Raid” Facebook page.

Charges have yet to be filed against Spindletop Pit Bull Refuge director Leah Purcell, but a hearing has been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday morning at the Montgomery County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Court.

Sources:, Montgomery County Police Reporter, Houston Press,