The SPCA of Texas recently removed 12 dogs from a trailer home “filled with feces, urine and other debris” in Van Zandt County.

The dogs’ health concerns included “hair loss, flea infestation, extremely long nails, and several appeared to be emaciated with their hips and spines visible,” according to the SPCA.

The owner, Richard Stevenson, 63, of Ben Wheeler, was arrested on June 6 for marijuana possession and he remains in the Van Zandt County Jail. According to the SPCA, Stevenson failed to set up arrangements for the care of the animals.

The SPCA was notified about the conditions the 12 Chihuahua mixes were living in on June 11. SPCA of Texas animal cruelty investigators visited the “filthy mobile home” on June 12 and gave the animals food and water. The SPCA of Texas had a neighbor assist the following day and SPCA gathered the resources needed to remove all of the animals.

SPCA found the dogs did not have access to food or water, and the animals appeared to have been without resources for several days. The SPCA of Texas measured the ammonia level inside of the residence to be 215 parts per million. SPCA noted that short term exposure to any ammonia level over 20 ppm or long term exposure to any level over 12 ppm can lead to health problems for humans.

On Monday, SPCA of Texas investigators visited Stevenson in jail and he agreed to immediately sign custody of the animals over to the SPCA of Texas. Criminal charges are expected to be filed in this case, SPCA said.

The dogs were taken to the SPCA of Texas’ Russell E. Dealey Animal Rescue Center, where they will be examined and cared for until they’re ready for adoption or placement on a case-by-case basis.

“We appreciate the quick response from the SPCA and the strong working relationship we have with this organization,” Van Zandt County Sheriff Steve Hendrix said.

For more information on the SPCA of Texas, visit


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Multimedia Journalist

I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.