The trial that will determine if a Floyd County breeding facility will regain custody of around 260 dogs has been set back. Originally scheduled for October 3rd, the trial had been postponed to give the owners of Alpha Tex Kennels time to prepare a defense. If on October 13th a judge decides not to return custody to the breeders, rights to the animals will be handed over to rescue groups.

Mark and Sandra Smith, the owners of Alpha Tex Kennels, say their breeding stock got out of had after Mark had foot surgery earlier this year. Although the house pets were in exemplary condition, several dogs from the kennels were put down by a veterinarian due to advanced diseases or birth defects, as well as one malnourished horse with advanced injuries. The Smiths maintain that the horse was scheduled to be put down later that week.

Humane Society of West Texas Public Relations Volunteer Debra Avery says she hopes those involved realize this case is a sensitive one. "To the Smiths, we were taking away their pets, their babies," she said. "Even in the face of the animals' condition, we must keep that in mind." Avery went on to express that approaching the issue with calm, open negotiations will yield better results for the animals. She says she believes the Humane Society is not only there to support animals, but to help educate and support those in the community involved with caring for those animals. "It's the way I've been raised," she said.

Although a calm approach is key, one can't help but feel disturbed when testimonials are given. "The smell was overpowering," Avery rasped. Her voice was hoarse from breathing in the fumes emanating from the kennels. "It just comes down to, they had too many dogs." Other macabre images of puppies overcome with mange, bones of deceased animals mixed in with sewage and dogs with scabbed over wounds stirred the bellies of even the toughest volunteers. Images of the horse that was put down are distressing, easily comparable to the condition of Holocaust victims, and certainly not the case of four or five months of light neglect.

When 40 or so German Shepherds arrived from the facility at the Humane Society of West Texas Thursday, it was difficult to fathom how a situation could get so out of hand. Some had chunks missing from their ears and all were in desperate need of thorough grooming. Some were strangely proportioned, under weight, or too small. They certainty weren't the picture of an AKC standard german shepherd, and although the Smiths insisted the problem began recently, most dogs appeared to be at least two years old.

Not all dogs made it to Lubbock. Several dogs had to be euthanized, including two puppies who were already showing advanced signs of hip dysplasia, an indication of poor breeding practices. Avery says she believes the number of dogs requiring euthanasia would have been much higher if they hadn't gotten there that day. Several puppies were saved only in the nick of time, and other dogs required medication for intestinal parasites and other diseases. Avery says they are still waiting for results on heartworms and other diseases requiring more thorough tests.

As the trial approaches, the Humane Society in Lubbock continues to fight for the well being of the dogs. "We're running a marathon, not a sprint. These dogs are in need more than a few days of attention, they need a full, long-term commitment," says Avery. And that's something the Humane Society of West Texas says they'll do for the dogs, assuming the judge grants them custody. Applications are currently being taken for foster families. Because of the dogs sensitive and unsocialized nature, they won't be placed in just any home. "They need to be someone's baby, to be snuggled and hugged on and talked to. They can't just be stuck in a back yard and forgotten."

If you are interested in helping the Humane Society absorb this massive undertaking, you can contact volunteer Linda Cox at 806-466–6644 or to submit a foster application. Wal-Mart Gas gift cards are also needed. Fence pickets are also needed for foster home yard repairs. Keep checking for updates on donation needs. For more information on the Humane Society of West Texas, click here.

gallery: Alpha Tex Rescue