As many of you realize, the HSPCA is accustomed to merely presenting a lengthy bill and having a court rubber stamp it. The judge in the Gracia case ruled that they had to present a detailed bill AND "prove it up". This is a significant ruling. Further, she ruled that the bill should be reduced for certain items, for example earmarked donations and such donations must be disclosed. She ruled that the Gracias should be credited for any sales proceeds received from the animals and was apparently none too happy when the HSPCA announced that it might be sending some of the animals to "sanctuary".
The court ruled they could collect nothing for any animals ordered returned.
The HSPCA employee who was put on the stand to prove up the bill basically said "here it is" and the total is $75,000 + about $9,000 for the week between the ruling and the hearing on damages. The first thing the judge did was seriously question that second number as it was the HSPCA who was unprepared to present their information at the end of the trial; their fault for that week of delay.
The HSPCA initially claimed there were NO earmarked or restricted donations but, after going round and round, this woman basically ended up playing dumb to the extent of trying to deny she even knew who within HSPCA would even know the financial and donation information. The judge appeared skeptical.
Do YOU believe that not one single item or dollar was donated for the Gracia animals? I mean, seriously, we know the Gracias themselves had to provide feed for the birds because the HSPCA didn't have any at the time of the seizure and the HSPCA didn't even give them credit for their own donation. How bizarre to have the owners provide supplies and be charged for supplies that were never provided!
In the end, the HSPCA was awarded ownership of all but 1 dog and all the chickens. At the hearing, it came out that the HSPCA had made NO attempt to return the animals already ordered returned. The judge was not pleased. Of course, WE who follow these cases are not at all surprised as it has become SOP for those seizing animals to resist returning them, even upon court order. The arrogance and self righteousness and scofflawism of the humaniacs is simply unparalleled. Perhaps, in the end, that was not entirely lost upon this judge.
The HSPCA also received a judgment to receive the bond of a little over $44,000 but that was all the money they were awarded. It is no where near what they demanded.
I think that amount is outrageous but, to put it in perspective, let's review. A little over a year ago, the HSPCA claimed it took nearly $300,000 to care for 1,000 small animals for 10 days. In the Gracia case, the amount was down to less than $85,000 for over 2 months for the same number of small animals. They were awarded slightly over half the amount of their claim at just over $44,000 and they had some serious barriers getting it; along with some earlier rulings that will impinge their abilities in the future.
I have wept this past week for the Gracias and for their animals but I have also done a happy dance several times because this case has swung the pendulum back quite a ways for those within the HSPCA's "zone". It is of particular note that the Harris County Attorney's office did not go running to their FB page or website to tout this "victory". Those following it would know it certainly wasn't much of a victory and...
If I were a betting woman (and I am), I would bet this case is no where near over. I have taken note of late of the uptick in AR whining about counter suits involving these seizures. GOOD for the animal owners who are standing up to these abusive monsters! We all need to do a better job of standing up and standing together to protect our property and our rights.