dog abuse

(Photo by Southern Pines Animal Shelter)

JCSD, Southern Pines team for huge rescue

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The Jones County Sheriff’s Department and Southern Pines Animal Shelter of Hattiesburg pulled 39 malnourished and abandoned dogs from a Jones County residence Friday, and the shelter is now asking for local support to give the animals new homes.

Shelter officials stated online that the conditions of the residence were “heartbreaking,” as dogs were trapped inside and that some had died. The dogs’ intake will cost the shelter about $17,500, they wrote. It’s unclear now if anyone will be charged for the abuse. 

Sheriff Joe Berlin said Miranda Kittrell is facing her third offense involving neglected animals; she now faces more than 30 misdemeanor charges, he said.

The department received a call Thursday evening and sent an investigator to check things out. A search warrant was executed the next morning, and Southern Pines removed the animals.

Berlin said he would like to thank Southern Pines for alerting the Sheriff's Department to the crime.

Kittrell faces enhanced penalties after Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a law in July that says each act of cruelty or abuse that is committed against more than one animal will count as a separate offense. Previously, no matter how many animals were involved, it was one cruelty charge.

“We’ve gotten a lot of inquiries, and due to the investigation, they’re currently on (an adoption) hold to allow us time to process them and make sure charges are filed,” said Amanda Paris, director of Southern Pines. “Some of the animals had severe medical and behavioral issues, so as we work this out and figure out what’s going on with them, we’re going to reach out to (the public) on our Facebook page about what their needs are and we’ll have to do to get them ready for adoption.”

Southern Pines representatives did not return phone calls before press time.

Some of the dogs have been taken into foster care. 

This isn’t the first time animals have been neglected on such a scale in Jones County. Early this year, Safe and Warm Animal Rescue Mission in Ellisville shut down after the Hub City Humane Society removed 22 dogs and six cats from the operation’s premises. 

In 2017, Kittrell, a founding member of the now-defunct Animal Rescue Team, faced charges of animal neglect and abuse when Jones County Sheriff’s deputies took 40 dogs and nearly 20 horses living in poor conditions from multiple properties. Kittrell was charged with 13 counts of failing to provide substance to the animals. Sources close to this current investigation say those animals were discovered on Kittrell's property, and children had been there, too.

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