A controversial “illegal immigrant magnet” community in Texas has another problem to add to a list that includes cartels, crime and squalor: abused and abandoned animals.
Colony Ridge, located some 35 miles north of Houston and one of the biggest housing developments in the country, has more than 1,000 neglected animals in desperate need of rescue, advocates told The Post.
“The conditions are heartbreaking,” said John Rouke, a veteran who’s engineered previous animal rescues around the southern border.
Multiple rescue volunteers told The Post of seeing dogs suffering bullet or machete wounds. Others have been burned or hanged. Independent rescuer Lisa Noble said there are hundreds of starved and emaciated dogs at a time – “maybe more” – living in the area.
Rourke, the owner of Blue Line Moving company, is mounting a rescue effort later this week along with Big Dog Ranch Rescue, hoping to save around 100 dogs and transport them to Palm Beach County, Florida, for rehab and eventual adoption.
“We’ll rescue as many as we can — as many as we can fit on the bus,” he said.
While Lee Ann Penton Walker, the former mayor of Plum Grove, a town next to Colony Ridge, accuses people within the migrant community of incessantly breeding dogs, Rourke said some canines have been abandoned there by locals who don’t necessarily live in Colony Ridge.
“If you have a dog you don’t want, you just drive to Colony Ridge, open the door and dump him out and bolt,” said Rourke of the attitude.
He added that the castoff dogs then “reproduce like crazy. Next thing you know, you have thousands of dogs, many in really bad shape.”
Megan Keefe, the Texas rep for the Massachusetts-based Better Together Dog Rescue, will be making her third trip to Colony Ridge this week.
“On any given night, you come across at least 1,000 dogs,” she said.
Even after making regular trips there for the past five years and rescuing some 1,500 dogs, Noble told The Post that the situation now is the worst she’s ever seen.
During her near-daily trips to feed the starving dogs, she claims to have witnessed young people driving around and “doing donuts,” sometimes running over and even killing the dogs that roam the grounds in packs.
“It’s on purpose, it’s absolute cruelty, and it’s out of control,” Noble said. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.
“Some make it and some don’t,” she added, saying she has found litters of puppies shot in their heads and stuffed in trash bags. “It’s a heartbreak every day.”
Still, there’s hope for rescues who escape the cruelty of Colony Ridge.
About two years ago, a bloodstained little mutt, now named Joey, was discovered by Noble with “an eye popping out of his head. They beat him and killed his friends.”
After treatment for skull fractures and the removal of his eye, Joey has made a full recovery and was adopted in the Houston area.
The goal is to medically treat the dogs, rehab and socialize them with fosters, and get them adopted, said Noble. Severe cases can require tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, the funding for which comes from a variety of nonprofit rescues around the country.
Lauree Simmons, founder of Big Dog Ranch Rescue, will be armed with a team of kennel technicians, trainers and vets on call for immediate care during this week’s rescue.
“A lot of the dogs are in really rough shape” with “clear signs of abuse,” said Simmons. “They need medical help and to get out of a bad situation. The quicker we get these dogs medically treated and into homes, the quicker we can go back and get more.”
It’s a long way to go before any can be adopted, but Rourke said he’s already fielding messages from people around the country who are hoping to apply.
Joy Minichello, a nurse from Connecticut, adopted German Shepherds Bourbon and Bowie last March after they were rescued from Colony Ridge by Better Together Dog Rescue.
The two were dehydrated and starving, positive for heartworms and infested with fleas that had caused their fur to shed, according to rescuer Keefe.
Now, 30 pounds heavier and with their coats filled in, Minichello said, “They are thriving and loving life. They rescued me.”
The 40-square-mile Colony Ridge development, located on unincorporated land in Liberty County, was launched 15 years ago by billionaire developer brothers Trey and John Harris. Its mass appeal — with a population of some 75,000, many of whom are undocumented migrants — lies in circumventing credit and residency checks required for traditional bank loans to buy lots and homes via owner-financed properties.
A Post story from October reported: “When The Post toured Colony Ridge, we saw tents, trailers, ramshackle shanties and packs of dogs alongside some nicer homes and well-kept lots.”
Last month, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against Colony Ridge owners of “operating an illegal land sales scheme and targeting tens of thousands of Hispanic borrowers with false statements and predatory loans.”
“We loan to those who have no opportunity to get a loan from anyone else and we are proud of the relationship we have developed with customers,” Colony Ridge CEO John Harris previously told The Post in a statement.
A lawyer for the Colony Ridge developmenttold The Post for this story, “The claims are false.”