JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - WLBT News was prevented from seeing the animals that had been removed from a Pearl home Friday. They're in quarantine and recovering at the Mississippi Animal Rescue League in Jackson. 28 dogs and cats were found at the house on Upper Drive, emaciated and covered in feces. 64-year-old Bennie Gerald Keys lives there with his wife and their three-year-old son. Keys is now in jail on 28 counts of animal cruelty.
Four of the youngest animals have had to be euthanized. The rest are in bad shape. "A lot of upper respiratory in some of the cats. The dogs, coated in fleas, just coated, just layers," says MARL Director Debra Boswell. "They've got big sores from the scratching and biting, overgrown nails. They can't stand appropriately."
In such conditions, young children are at high risk for health problems as well. "Things like giardia, an intestinal problem that causes chronic diarrhea, infections on open wounds, lung issues, sarcoptic mange, we call it scabies in people," Boswell says.
The child is now in the custody of DHS.
Boswell says animal hoarding is nothing new. There are hundreds of similar cases, and some may never be discovered. It's often a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder, she says. "The M-O is usually the same, a large amount of animals in the home, more than anyone could take care of, filthy conditions, sick animals. A lot think they're saving the animals, caring for them. They're really inflicting a lot of animal suffering."
Neighbors around the home told us Friday they'd noticed strong odors from the home, but didn't call authorities. Police discovered the problems Thursday as they responded to a domestic violence call from the home.
Boswell says authorities need to be notified of such behavior, and witnesses such as family members are important. "Take photographs, bring photographs, start the process, get some help for these individuals and those animals," she says.
The animals that can recover will be put up for adoption.