Breaking: Nearly 100 dogs, cats rescued from large-scale cruelty situation in Mississippi

By on July 11, 2018 with 22 Comments

On the outside, it appeared to be a well-maintained property in Jones County, Mississippi, with several buildings, a neatly mowed lawn and pine trees scattered around 161 sprawling acres of land. But what our Animal Rescue Team and local law enforcement officials from the Jones County Sheriff’s Department found when they entered some of the buildings on the property today was shocking.

Locked inside crates were dozens of emaciated dogs and cats, including some who were sick. Many of the animals were covered in fleas and appeared to suffer from a lack of veterinary care. The place was filthy and disgusting.

Many of the animals were covered in fleas and appeared to suffer from a lack of veterinary care. The place was filthy and disgusting. Photo by Kevin Wolf/AP Images for the HSUS

Four of the dogs had to be transported out of the property immediately for urgent medical care. Altogether, our team removed approximately 65 dogs and 30 cats from the property.

The Animal Rescue Team of the Humane Society of the United States has conducted hundreds of such rescues over the years, and they’ve seen some terrible instances of animal suffering and neglect. Yet each time, they tell me, they are shocked anew by the suffering of animals trapped in difficult situations from which they have no escape. Thankfully, this day was going to be different.

“It was a heart-wrenching scene and I am happy we were called in to assist. We are always eager to offer animals relief and expert care,” said Sára Varsa, vice president of the Animal Rescue Team, who was on site for the rescue today.

Among today’s rescues are approximately 30 cats. Photo by Kevin Wolf/AP Images for the HSUS

The Jones County Sheriff’s Department contacted us for help after representatives of Southern Cross Animal Rescue, a local organization based in nearby Laurel, Mississippi, raised concerns about the welfare of animals on the property. As Sheriff Alex Hodge stated to our staff, “Our pets are our family and deserve a healthy atmosphere. Situations like these, though this particular incident seems quite massive, are more than unfortunate, they are unfair and unnecessary.”

Dr. Kirk Frazier from All Animals Veterinary Clinic examines one of the dogs rescued today. Photo by Kevin Wolf/AP Images for the HSUS

Dr. Kirk Frazier from All Animals Veterinary Clinic provided medical care for the animals at the site. The animals are being transported to a temporary emergency shelter in a nearby location, where they will be thoroughly examined and will receive veterinary medical treatment. Responders from RedRover, an organization that specializes in providing help to animals in crisis situations, will assist in the caretaking of the animals at the temporary shelter. A generous donation has been made by the Alex and Elisabeth Lewyt Charitable Trust to support the expert care and supplies needed for the rescued animals.

This case highlights the need for stronger laws in Mississippi to protect animals from cruelty. Mississippi is one of only two states in the nation without felony penalties for egregious animal cruelty, such as torture or starvation, on the first offense. No matter how depraved an act of animal cruelty is, law enforcement can only charge the offender with a misdemeanor if they don’t have a previous conviction for animal cruelty.

The HSUS and local advocates have worked for many years to pass legislation that would bring Mississippi in line with the rest of the country. Earlier this year, Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden introduced legislation that would have corrected this disparity, but, as with prior years, the state legislature declined to hold a public hearing on the bill.

We will continue to fight for stronger laws in Mississippi and elsewhere, but for now, we are happy that the animals rescued today are safe. This is an open investigation and we will share what we can in the coming days. As Sára said, “Tonight in our temporary shelter, we hope the animals get some rest. In the morning, there is a new day ahead of them.”

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  1. Maria Farley says:

    Thank you so much for saving all of those suffering and neglected dogs and cats. I’m truly humbled by your dedication. I am a monthly donator I wish I could do so much more. The humane society is truly a God sent. Bless you all for your hard work it doesn’t go unnoticed.

  2. Brenda Nirenberg says:

    Thanks to everyone who is there helping these animals. I am very pleased that the Jones County Sheriff took this seriously and called these groups in to help them. Jones County is where a gentleman, I use the term loosely, cut a little kitten up with garden shears several years ago and got a slap on the wrist. The animal cruelty laws in Mississippi are abysmal. I have been working off and on for years to various degrees trying to help others get them changed. This year at the fair in Pearl River County I will have an information table that includes leaflets on Animal Care and also on our abysmal animal cruelty law. Farm Bureau has blocked a decent animal cruelty law for the last 8 years that I’m aware of. Anyway, thank you so much.

  3. Cynthia Criswell says:

    Thank you for helping these animals but we need help in Kentucky. Please help the dogs and cats at the Trixie Foundation. They are suffering and living in Hell with no vet care.

    • Susan Conner says:

      Cynthia Criswell, local authorities have to request the assistance of HSUS and Red Rover. The organisations can not intervene on their own initiative. Their role is to help the law enforcement authorities make a case. There is a lot of very technical forensic and legal work involved.

    • Deedee Dillingham says:

      I just emailed HSUS KY director, Kathryn Callahan, and asked her to reply.

  4. Doris Muller says:

    It’s painful to read about the horrendous suffering of all these defenseless victims. It’s even more painful to know that the stories that make the news are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to animal cruelty. There are, unfortunately, way too many sadistic humans who have no qualms about treating animals like trash. In this case, and others like it, I always wonder if others who are acquainted with the psychopaths just turn a blind eye to the reality. How could caring individuals be complicit in the suffering by not alerting authorities?

    Thank you to all who devote your lives to helping these defenseless victims.

  5. Debbie Lewellen says:

    Well here we go again, another puppy mill bust? lack of info on this story to expose these monsters. Thanks Mississippi for your lack of law enforcement to stop this constant problem in your state.

  6. morgan says:

    is there a number to contacts to check for a specific Animal there?

  7. Sue Poplewell says:

    The people who abuse animals need to be punished for their crimes on the animals. The punishment people get are not enough for the suffering that the animals went thru. A fine and/or slap on the wrist is not enough. They should be put in prison and suffer. Although they will not suffer like the animals suffered. Lock them up throw away the key. It’s not right that they get only misdemeanors for their crimes against the helpless animals.

  8. Karla Warren says:

    Why has your organization not helped the animals living in deplorable conditions in Kentucky? Law enforcement reached out to you from Elliott County and were told no. Why have you turned your backs on the 150+ animals suffering in deplorable conditions at the Trixie Foundation? Help these animals please!

  9. Jeannette veneroso says:

    Thanks for saving these sweet baby ,how do you find out if one of these dogs looks like my baby that’s been missing for 3 months.

  10. Jen Archer says:

    Were these 100 animals pets of the landowners? Or were the owners trying to save the animals and couldn’t keep up? I hope the crate/cage mates are kept together when adopted. 🙁

  11. KATHLEEN says:


  12. Linda L Begovich says:

    Thank you Humane Society of U.S., Red Rover, Southern Cross Animal Rescue and All Animals Veterinary Clinic and especially the Law Enforcement Officials from Jones County Sheriff’s department for having compassion in their hearts to help these animals. Very rare for Police/Sheriff’s to care. Thank you again.

  13. Marsha says:

    And intelligent comment… The north east command all you are doing for these animals. We are looking for their arrival in Virginia this weekend to find in foster homes and then permanent homes.

  14. Lawrence P Bengle says:

    Please keep up the good work. There is no justification to treat harmless animals with such a high disregard for common decency. Your work is commendable and a service to the animals who otherwise would be helpless in such deplorable conditions. Thank You…Larry Bengle

  15. LIAM MCVAY says:

    What happened there🥺😭

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