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Charges brought in large-scale animal cruelty case in Mississippi

Media Contact: Kirsten Peek: 301-548-7793, kpeek@humanesociety.org

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Last week, the Humane Society of the United States assisted the Jones County Sheriff’s Department in removing 55 dogs and 34 cats from a large-scale cruelty situation on a 161-acre property in Jones County, Mississippi. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and Southern Cross Animal Rescue also participated in the rescue.

All but five of the 89 animals removed from the property were surrendered to the Humane Society of the United States. The five who were not surrendered will continue to be expertly cared for as the court process determines their eventual outcome. We are committed to all of the animals and are still learning about them as they are prepared for their next steps.  We will provide updates on their placement as that information becomes available.

“We are thankful to the Jones County Sheriff’s Department for taking animal cruelty seriously and for the acknowledgment that stronger animal protection laws are needed in Mississippi,” said Sara Varsa, vice president of animal rescue at the Humane Society of the United States. “Mississippi is one of only two states in the nation without felony penalties for egregious animal cruelty on the first offense. We are committed to the animals rescued last week and hope this case results in positive change for all animals in Mississippi.”

Jones County Sheriff’s Department has charged two suspects, David and Mary Ellen Senne with one count each of aggravated animal cruelty. The charge is a misdemeanor and is the strongest possible charge under current law. The Humane Society of the United States and local advocates have worked for many years to pass legislation that would bring Mississippi’s animal protection laws 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 in prior years, the state legislature declined to hold a public hearing on the bill. We encourage Mississippi residents to contact their state representative and senator and ask him or her to support legislation that provides felony penalties for egregious acts of animal cruelty.