The custody hearing concerning the future of hundreds of head of cattle seized by the Hopkins County Sheriff’s deputies and the SPCA of Texas will be held on Wednesday, December 13 at 1:30 p.m. in the District Courtroom of the Hopkins County Courthouse. The hearing will only focus on the custody of the cattle and not any criminal charges against the owner of the cattle, George Lawrence Bergin, 61, of Sulphur Springs. Bergin was charged with a state jail felony, which carries a punishment of up to two years in state jail and up to $10,000 fine if found guilty.
Bergin was in Hopkins County jail following his arrest for Cruelty to Livestock-Fail to Provide, a state jail felony. At first it was thought there were between 200 and 400 head of starving cattle that appeared to be suffering from malnutrition. That number has increased according to Justice of the Peace B. J. Teer who will preside during the custody hearing. The livestock were transported to an undisclosed location to be treated by a Veterinarian and to receive proper nourishment.
According to the SPCS of Texas, Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office began seizing and taking custody of the allegedly cruelly treated, starving head of cattle from six Hopkins County properties near Sulphur Springs, on Monday, December 4. The animals did not have access to appropriate food or water and were not receiving proper care. Due to the severity of their conditions, two head of cattle were euthanized on the scene by a veterinarian. Three deceased cattle were also found today on the properties along with an unknown number of skeletal remains of cattle.
The cattle were found on six different properties encompassing an estimated 2,700 acres of bare pasture land. Most of the cattle are emaciated. No hay was found on the properties. The Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office and the SPCA of Texas have received multiple complaints of animal cruelty in this case and attempted to work with the owner to bring the animals’ conditions into compliance with Texas Health and Safety Code. As the animal owner refused to provide sufficient appropriate food, water and care for the cattle, the Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office and the SPCA of Texas agreed that it was in the animals’ best interest to obtain a seizure warrant and remove them.