Updated: Wednesday, 13 Jan 2010, 11:15 AM CST
Published : Monday, 11 Jan 2010, 4:27 PM CST
MARTINDALE, Texas (KXAN) - It is a small patch of land in the middle of a flood plain in Martindale, just outside of San Marcos. On it, you will find many tattered, discarded objects, a broken-down fence and three dogs - all on separate chains, on different parts of the property.
"They're just stuck out there," said Ed Cooper, who is staying at a home next to the property. "Nobody lives there, nobody visits them. I don't know why they are there, but they're obviously suffering."
Watch below as Jenny Hoff shows you what the scene looks like:
Cooper has joined other members of the community in bringing hay to keep the dogs warm and occasional food, to make sure they are eating. Although this group of activists has spread into Austin and even other parts of the country, Martindale's police chief Jeff Caldwell said there is nothing illegal about the dogs' accomodations.
"We got complaints," Caldwell said. "And, we've been going by and doing regular checks just to make sure the dogs are not in distress. We've had the animal control officer over to check on them. He said the dogs are happy and healthy, and there's not a problem with them."
Caldwell admits it is not a situation he would keep his own dogs in, but he said there is nothing he can legally do at this point.
"If somebody witnesses abuse, let us know and we will look into it," said Caldwell.
The owner of the property was not available for comment.
Martindale resident Elizabeth Cumberland said that is not enough.
"If nothing happens, then the situation will just continue," she said. "The dogs are on a chain. They cannot leave."
Cumberland said she has seen the dogs outside on the property for months. She and other neighbors claim they are never played with, they are always tied up and rarely fed. Once the temperature hit the teens, she reached out to Austin animal-rights activists.
Austin Pets Alive's Chris Schulman showed up Sunday night with a camera to take a look for himself.
"They are not OK," he said. "For one thing, it is cold. For another, I don't see any food or water. Third, dogs are social animals. These dogs are all chained where they can barely hear each other, maybe not even see each other."
Schulman said when he first saw the dogs, one of them had such a short chain, they could not reach the nearby shelter when it was cold outside. By Monday, the chain had been changed to a much longer one.
** UPDATE ON Jan. 13 - After this story aired, the owner relinquished the dogs to the people that were concerned about their well-being. They are fostering them until they find a good home. **