Editor's Note: This press release was updated on July 13, 2018 to reflect the final count of animals rescued and to add information about Mississippi's animal cruelty laws.

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 in Jones County, Mississippi. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and Southern Cross Animal Rescue also participated in the rescue.

The Jones County Sheriff’s Department served a search and seizure warrant on a 161-acre property at approximately 7 a.m. on July 11. The animals appeared to suffer from a lack of veterinary care and were housed in conditions typically seen in severe neglect situations.

The Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team has safely transported the animals to a temporary emergency shelter in a nearby location, where they are being examined by Dr. Kirk Frazier from All Animals Veterinary Clinic and receiving any necessary immediate medical treatment. RedRover responders are assisting in the caretaking of the animals at the temporary shelter.

“All animals should have access to adequate veterinary care and none should be forced to live in conditions like we have seen today,” said Sára Varsa, vice president of the Humane Society of the United States Animal Rescue Team. “We are thankful to the Southern Cross Animal Rescue and other organizations that have answered the call to help these animals.”

The assistance of the Humane Society of the United States was requested by the Jones County Sheriff’s Department after concerns about the welfare of animals on the property were raised by representatives of Southern Cross Animal Rescue.

“The Jones County Sheriff’s Department works to give the citizens of Jones County a safe place to live, and that is not limited to the people. 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. My Department heeded the urgency from SCAR about these animals and took action with the help of the Humane Society if the United States,” states Sheriff Alex Hodge.

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 he or she doesn’t have a previous conviction for animal cruelty.

The Humane Society of the United States 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 in prior years, the state legislature declined to hold a public hearing on the bill.

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.

Text GIVING to 20222 to donate $10* to the Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team to support the organization’s efforts in this and other animal rescues.

Message and data rates may apply. A one-time donation of $10.00 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. Terms and conditions found at https://mobilegiving.org/terms-and-conditions/.

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