No one wants to lose a furry friend. Especially not 231 furry friends all at one time. And not all based on a “bogus warrant.”

But that’s what Faye and Dave Spencer are alleging happened to them, and the 200-plus cats in their care. They are suing the Houston SPCA and several individuals — including a deputy sheriff, assistant county attorney, and a justice of the peace — claiming a conspiracy to deprive them of the cats and their constitutional rights.

Cat Caretakers

According to their lawsuit, Dave and Faye “spend beyond full-time as caretakers of the sanctuary and the cats in this enclosed sanctuary.” Their home was designed and built out as a “forever home” for injured, unwanted, or special needs cats, and served as overflow for the Montgomery County Animal Shelter and a place for owners to house their cats if they temporarily couldn’t care for them.

This went on, without incident or complaint, for over a decade until one nosy neighbor moved in next door and started taking pictures of the backyard enclosure and contacting their local homeowner’s association, the county health department, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Montgomery County Animal Control, and the sheriff’s department. After several back-and-forth visits with an HSPCA employee, authorities showed up with a “facially defective and statutorily and constitutionally insufficient warrant” and seized 231 cats, according to the Spencers’ count.

Cats and the Constitution

“Plaintiffs observed several cats being injured as they were struck with the nets and thrust into cages as these individuals destroyed the cat’s [sic] homes and tracked mud and dirt inside the home,” the federal lawsuit alleges. “Dave and Faye have not been criminally charged for animal cruelty, have not received any civil process demonstrating they are litigants in any civil matter specific to these circumstances, and have not enjoyed due process requirements and rules of court for any valid litigation.”

As such, the pair are claiming the county, its employees, and the nosy neighbor violated their Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights and unlawfully deprived them of the cats — not all of which were theirs, per se. Sadly, some of those cats have apparently already been euthanized. And the days of Dave and Faye’s cat sanctuary may be over.

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