Texas: Owner of seized big cats charged with animal cruelty

UPDATE: Owner of exotic animals behind bars
Posted: Jan 28, 2010 7:33 PM EST Updated: Jan 29, 2010 1:11 PM EST

By Courtney Lane
Posted by Ellen Krafve

MARION COUNTY, TX (KLTV) – The owner of those exotic animals seized in Marion County is now behind bars herself. Barbara Hoffman is charged with numerous counts of animal cruelty.

In the meantime, the nearly 100 animals seized from her property Wednesday are recovering in county clinics.

“All the big cats are in climate controlled, secured area,” said Caroline Wedding, with the Marion County Humane Society. “This cold weather coming in this weekend, they’re going to be happy babies…we want their lives to be heaven.”

To free them from the filth, Marion County investigators had to cut through the rusted, corroded locks.

“That’s just proof that these animals have been left out in the weather forever…their feet are sore due to the fact that they’re always on their wet floors, due to standing in their own urine,” said Larry Nance, with the Marion County D.A.’s Office.

Now, their cages are clean. Though a temporary home, Marion County says their behavior is improving instantly.

“They’re all just what I call purring…they just lay around and push their feet against you [in a] real playful mood,” said Nance.

Ironically, their owner, Hoffman, is now also behind bars and under a suicide watch. She used to be an animal trainer with her late husband, but records uncover a trail of trouble since his death.

Before moving to Marion County, Hoffman was kicked out of Edinburg, Texas for the same thing: not registering the wild animals. Investigators say she was also denied a USDA license and began hoarding.

“When you’ve got 50 small animals in a camper trailer that smells like 18 years of rotting urine, you’re not taking care of your animals,” said William Gleason, the Marion County District Attorney.

For some of those smaller, domestic cats, it is already too late. Plagued with diseases, some are being euthanized. But, for most, like Hoffman’s prized monkey, it is a fresh start, and, hopefully, a happy ending.

http://www.kltv.com/Global/story.asp?S=11898358

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at https://bigcatrescue.org

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