WilCo Sheriff's Office: Owners of Florence animal shelter arrested and charged with animal 'cruelty'

27-year-old Daniel Hoch and his dad John, a retired pharmacist, were in court Monday morning in Taylor.
Williamson County Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Judy Hobbs presided over a hearing about the Hoch's animal shelter in Florence called the R.U.G. Activity Center.  That stands for "Reliant Upon God."

After a surprise inspection the week prior, Williamson County Animal Control seized 89 cats and 1 dog from the property.

READ: Dozens of animals seized from Florence animal shelter

After hours of testimony, Judge Hobbs sided with the county.  The animals won't be returned to the Hoch's.

Witnesses like a county veterinarian and animal control officers took the stand.  They reported seeing tall grass, debris and trash around the property, like rusty cans and animals who couldn't get away from their own feces; a strong odor of ammonia from the cat urine -- and many of the cats were sneezing and coughing and missing fur.

Witnesses reported standing water in the dog's kennel which the Hoch's testified was from an automatic-refilling water bowl that had overflowed.  The dog is apparently in good health according to the county.

The county vet said she had examined many of the cats who had fleas, probable intestinal parasites, ear mites and upper respiratory infections.

The Hoch's testified the R.U.G. Activity Center is "no-kill" so they get animals from local shelters who aren’t no-kill.  They say many of the animals were sick when they brought them in and admitted some may not have been properly quarantined.  They claim a veterinarian had been treating the animals.

"Obviously there were some issues with the confinement of these animals and it not being adequate for their care and protection and so we are happy that they are seized and they're now in a good shelter with the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter," said Stephanie Greger with Williamson County Attorney's Office.

"We're disappointed.  I felt like not all of the animals should have been seized.  There wasn't proof of any particular animal that was sick even though they testified to it," said the Hoch's attorney Eric Torberson.

The Hoch's said some of the accusations were painful to hear.

"Because I take care of them.  They are fat.  They purr.  An abused cat doesn't purr," John Hoch said.

Shortly after the hearing, the Hoch's were arrested by Williamson County Deputies.  Each of them are charged with four counts of cruelty to a non-livestock animal.  The charges are Class A misdemeanors.

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