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Judge rules Fort Worth can keep animals seized from illegal dumping ground

Judge finds Fort Worth property landowner civilly responsible for animal cruelty
Judge finds Fort Worth property landowner civilly responsible for animal cruelty 02:52

FORT WORTH — A Fort Worth municipal court judge has ruled the owner of a property, where CBS News Texas' I-Team found a massive illegal dump, liable for animal cruelty. 

An animal control officer and police detective Friday testified seven horses and a donkey seized from the 70-acre lot in east Fort Worth had cuts and wounds on their bodies. 

There was nothing, they told the judge, restricting the animals' access to piles of unsafe construction materials on the property. 

There was also no fresh water, they said, describing the buckets of green algae left for the animals. 

The land, where the horses were kept, is owned by Dorex, Inc., a company headquartered in a residential Dallas neighborhood and run by a local family. 

They arrived in trailers several weeks ago, after the Tarrant Appraisal District announced plans to inspect the property to determine whether it should be receiving an agricultural exemption. 

A veterinarian the family hired, told the judge the horses' injuries were relatively minor and that it was unclear what had caused them. 

In his verdict though, the judge found Dorex, "did cruelly treat the animals by unreasonably depriving the animals of necessary care or shelter" and that the company should be, "divested of ownership" of them and pay the city more than $12,000. 

The company's land in east Fort Worth is estimated to be worth roughly $1.4 million, but because of its existing agricultural exemption, it pays far less in property taxes than most homeowners – less than $200 a year. 

That tax status came into question during CBS News Texas' reporting, when over several months, only two donkeys were ever seen on the land. 

Days after the I-team's first report, TAD revoked the exemption, allowing for property taxes to jump to as high as $28,000 a year. 

Dorex has appealed TAD's decision. 

It may file an appeal of the judge's decision on the animals as well, and has ten days to do so. 

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