Legal Tangle Keeps Whiskerville Cats in Limbo at GCAS Shelter
The seized cats’ lives are far better now than they were at the hellish Whiskerville Sanctuary, but it was hoped they would be up for adoption or foster care by now. Wydell Dixon is dragging out legal proceedings over the cats she claims to care about.
Legal wrangling over a new bond law that has prevented Whiskerville Animal Sanctuary owner Wydell Dixon from proceeding with an appeal to the Justice of the Peace court ruling that she is not allowed to regain possession of the cats who suffered in her facility, is keeping the cats from being released from the shelters where they are being held and allowed to be adopted or placed into foster care.
Most of the 186 cats from the January 3 seizure remain housed at the GCAS (Galveston County Humane Society), with a smaller number dispersed to two area shelters. Some of the severly neglected animals have died.
Many are disappointed that the cats who suffered under the ghastly conditions at Whiskerville are still prevented by the owner of the shelter from moving on with their lives. Not only are the cats stuck in legal limbo, they continue to burden GCAS by their sheer numbers and the amount of volunteers and care required to tend to them properly. In addition to feeding and cleaning cages, the cats need socialization, continued help with grooming, and rehabilitative care. Their continued stay at GCAS means that the shelter is stretched thin dealing with other cats and kittens coming into their care. Though the Whiskerville cats must remain in the shelter for an undetermined time, people can help by adopting, fostering and rescuing the other cats who come to the shelter.
A volunteer tells us: “Many of the Whiskerville Cats are in isolation and I think that they are still identifying what all of their health challenges are. They had been giving many of the healthier ones alternate times in one of the community rooms so that they wouldn’t be stuck in the kennels. Their Vet informed them that they need to be separated from one another and put back into the kennels. They have a sign on the door entering into the area where their kennels are that says do not feed them any wetfood unless necessary due to missing teeth, etc. because wet food can camouflage their issues. They then totally disinfected that community room and the adoptablecats are in there now.They definitely needed that space for the adoptables because it makes them look more attractive when playing with one another.”
We spoke to GCAS staffers today, who are prevented from discussing the cats and their current condition due to the court cases. They say they have no way of knowing how long they will be required to house and care for the cats and they have to consider it an open ended matter. The shelter has all of the material supplies they need for the time being but they continue to have need for cash donations to help defray costs, and to pay for ongoing medical care for the cats. While many cats have recovered well from living in filth while starving next to their dead companions, at least a few have died from extreme neglect, and some continue to face medical issues.
Anyone wishing to donate can either mail donations to Galveston County Animal services at 3412 Loop 197 N, Texas City, Texas, 79590., or use the convenient ChipIn widgit HERE. This ChipIn was set up and is managed by local resident Joan Addison. GCAS has authorized us to provide the ChipIn link for those who wish to donate. They have nothing but praise for Joan and her efforts to help the Whiskerville cats. Joan has used monies raised to purchase supplies that staff and volunteers have asked for, and to pay for medical care for the cats. GCAS says that if you designate your donation as cash for them to use as they see fit they trust Joan to direct it that way.
The Texas 1st District Court of Appeals yesterday issued an emergency stay in Wydell Dixon’s appeal of the JP court decision that stripped Dixon of control of her cats. The appeals court is reviewing whether she needs to post the $27,000 appeal bond that is tied to the cost of the cats’ care, before her appeal can proceed. Her attorney is challenging a law passed last year making persons in Dixon’s position responsible for the costs incurred in caring for seized animals. If Dixon makes it passed this hurdle she will be scheduled for a jury trial. Meanwhile, the cats remain in limbo.
The bond was originally set at $105,000 before being lowered to the amount in question. Dixon’s lawyer said that since Dixon says does not have the money to pay the bond, she should not be required to make payment before continuing with her appeal. A judge recently ruled that not wanting to pay bond was not a legitimate reason for having it waived. Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Cuchens said that Dixon could have asked for a jury trial back when the matter was heard before the Justice of the Peace court. That request would have sped up the proceedings.
The matter of ownership and possession of the cats is one of two cases Dixon is involved in. She is also charged with felony animal abuse for the deaths of some of the cats neglected at her so-called sanctuary.
Wydell Dixon is well known in the Texas City, Texas area, where people’s impressions and dealings with her go back for years. Former volunteers at the sanctuary, as well as her own daughter, are among her biggest critics. Community members who saw the shocking video of the interior of the former commercial building used to house the cats say that in addition to the utter filth left by 150-plus uncared for cats, the state of structural disrepair is the same as when Dixon first set up the sanctuary. A few people have mentioned that they offered to help prepare the building at the beginning, and after a few days they were told not to come back and help any longer. They have pointed to holes in the walls and ceiling, saying they were there from the start.
People who visited or worked at the shelter years ago recognize cats at GCAS as having been at the shelter for years. While it is not unusual for animals to languish for years in no-kill shelters, some have complained that Dixon refused to adopt cats out when people wanted them. They have opined that there are control issues, and refusing to adopt animals out is an expression of that. There have been many incidents of butting heads with Wydell Dixon, and one incident went to court a while back. A woman’s two dogs got loose and somehow ended up at Whiskerville, and Dixon refused to give the dogs back to their owner, or to even allow them to be adopted back. The woman and Dixon ended up in court over the matter. Locals and animal advocates wonder whether the animals were suffering while the sanctuary made money. That question may or may not be addressed in the felony animal abuse case.
Here below is the video shot inside the Whiskerville animal Sancutary building in January, after the cats were seized. 150-plus starving, neglected cats shared space with the 27 or so bodies of their dead companions when the raid occurred. The cats starved while 2,000 pounds of food donated by Science Diet sat in a shed. Whiskerville passed an inspection by a vet named Kris Anderson in November. It is not known by us whether the inspector actually viewed the premises.
After the original story that Dixon’s employee left the cats in the care of someone else for slightly over A week was debunked as an excuse for the terrible conditions, Dixon said she was out of town for a month tending to important family matters. Locals and an estranged relative have disputed that claim, in part.
In her first court hearing,Dixon got emotional talking about her “babies”, who she allowed to exist in these conditions. Her demeanor was observed to be more confident and carefree in her second appearance. We have not heard first hand reports on her demeanor at this week’s hearing.
The video documents the state of the facility where Dixon allowed the cats to be kept. She is fighting having ownership taken away from her because she supposedly loves her babies. Her attorney says the cats will be better off with her than at the clean GCAS shelter, where they are receiving food, medicine, human attention, and remedial care. You be the judge. If the cats were to be returned to Wydell Dixon, she would have to find a new place to house them; the Whiskerville building has been condemned.
For more on the story, see our index of Whiskerville stories.