By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
BALDWYN – The decomposed remains of about 50 animals – mostly dogs – were found this week dumped near a bridge on Prentiss County Road 6200.
The Humane Society of the United States announced Wednesday it is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information to identify, arrest and convict whoever is responsible for the neglect and deaths.
Even if someone is arrested, however, he or she would face only misdemeanor charges with penalties up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine, said Sheriff Randy Tolar.
That’s because the state has no felony animal cruelty laws, a situation animal advocates have been working to change.
If enacted, Senate Bill 2127 would establish the felony crime of aggravated cruelty to a domesticated dog or cat, carrying a sentence of one to five years if convicted, and a fine of $1,500 to $10,000 per incident. It is the lone surviving bill of several anti-animal cruelty measures submitted earlier in the legislative session.
The animals were found in the legislative district represented by Jerry Turner of Baldwyn, but he did not learn of the incident until late Wednesday.
“I know of two Senate bills, but haven’t looked at them yet,” he said. “I think we do need some law dealing with that and strengthening the penalty, but a matter as weighty as that will certainly take some deliberation and consideration.”
The Humane Society of the United States’ Mississippi director and about a dozen others went to the state Capitol three weeks ago to urge passage of the law. They say the connection between animal cruelty and human violence is well documented.
“Anyone who could show such disregard for defenseless animals can be capable of hurting people, too,” said Lydia Sattler, Mississippi director of HSUS. “Whoever committed these violent and callous acts must be held accountable for his or her actions.”
The two women who found and documented the Prentiss County animal dumping on video wholeheartedly agree with the Humane Society’s position.
Shonda Owens and Stephanie Freeman were looking for a friend’s missing dog, Spike, when they came upon the grisly scene.
“We didn’t find Spike, but we found his brother Jake a little way down the road,” Owens said.
Both dogs had been missing for about a week, and though they can’t say what happened to them, the women believe they were taken by someone to be tortured and killed.
“Whoever done this, if they could do that to a dog and little bitty puppies, cats and stuff, they could do that to a kid,” Owens said.
After climbing down the embankment to where the animals were thrown, they saw young, apparently healthy dogs shot in the stomach, puppies only a few days old bashed in the head, and more.
“We know we can’t do it by ourselves,” Owens said. “We need other people to help us and find out who did this.”
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.