HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) – With help from some college volunteers, the Humane Society of South Mississippi started removing about 75 cats from a truck Wednesday afternoon. The cats, some sharing cages, were stacked on top of each other.
"With no floor on each of the cages, so any time the animals are going to the bathroom, it's dropping to the cats below," said Jode Braxton-Hignight, Development Director for the Humane Society. "This has become a dumping ground and because of pet irresponsibility, this is what has happened."
More than 300 other animals at the South Mississippi Animal Rescue Team and Refuge off Landon Road will be taken to a temporary home. They include dogs, seven goats, a pony and a rooster.
"We're using our County Farm location just as a temporary facility, just to get them ready to be moved out, because there's more shelter and utilities that we don't have available here," said Kevin Hicks, a Harrison County Sheriff's Department investigator.
The group American Humane will send a disaster relief team to evaluate the animals. PetSmart Charities is also sending a crew with food, covered cages, and washing supplies.
"There are many animals that have obvious skin problems. Many animals look malnourished," said Hignight.
The Humane Society said it could take at least two weeks to get all animals cleaned, evaluated and transported to shelters across the country. And the agency's goal is to get as many of the animals adopted as possible.
"This is an issue of animal neglect and animal abuse and we want to better their lives," said Hignight.
The refuge director, Jonean Crowle, is out of jail. She faces ten misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty.
"I feel like I've been railroaded," she said. "I was told last night if I wanted to get out of jail, I had to sign over my refuge or I could sit in jail for a very long time."
Crowle still claims she has taken excellent care of the animals at her no-kill shelter.
"We have all physically, mentally, emotionally unadoptable animals that we worked with and dealt with," said Crowle. "I want to know that these animals are not going to be killed, because they're not perfect."
On Thursday, volunteers will start moving the dogs to the Harrison County Farm and then the rest of the animals. Crowle was allowed to keep ten of the animals, because they are her personal pets.
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