Sheriff: ‘The dogs are gone. They are not coming back’

The Humane Society of the United States is petitioning the Mississippi Supreme Court for permission to appeal and order handed down in Jones County Circuit Court involving the seizure of five house pets during an animal cruelty raid in July 2018.

The order is not an actual appeal but asking for permission to appeal the ruling. Jones County Circuit Court Judge Dal Williamson last month ruled that the seizure of five house pets belonging to Col. David and Mary Ellen Senne violated the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which deals with illegal searches and seizures.

The judge ordered that attorneys for the Sennes, the HSUS and Sheriff Alex Hodge would agree on a date for when the five animals are to be produced. But the Humane Society is appealing that because, they argue, they no longer have possession of the dogs, that were legally surrendered to them. Williamson said HSUS and Hodge would have to produce the dogs.

“The dogs are gone,” Hodge said during a Facebook question-and-answer session Thursday regarding the raid. The Facebook event lasted about 45 minutes without any

questions being taken. “They are not coming back.” “I guess it doesn’t matter what the judge says,” said the Sennes’ attorney, J. Ronald Parrish. “What does he know that we don’t know? I will tell you, he knows they murdered them. “How can he reach a decision that should be up to the court?”

The Court will decide whether or not to entertain the appeal. One local defense attorney not affiliated with this case said appeals such as this are usually used as a stall tactic. The HSUS wants the state Supreme Court to review Williamson’s ruling that denied a request for a summary judgment, which would have, in effect, ended the case on the spot.

The HSUS argued that they no longer had possession of the animals seized during the raid on Lyon Ranch Road. By the time the Sennes’ attorney, J. Ronald Parrish, filed for replevin — the return of seized property — an order has already been signed by Justice Court relinquishing the animals to the HSUS, who then “farmed” them out to other rescue organizations.

At issue, still, are the five housepets, in a video and in seizure documents, 84 animals were to be seized by the Sheriff’s Department and the HSUS, with “the exception” of five pets who lived with the elderly couple on a house boat. Those dogs, too, were seized.

It is that search that Williamson ruled was a violation of the 4th Amendment because there was no affidavit witness to animal cruelty inside the Sennes’ residence. Hodge said during his Facebook event that he, too, is considering appealing Williamson’s decision. Hodge, flanked by Lt. David Ward, who led the raid, and public information officer Allyson Knotts, talked at length about Leader-Call bias involving Managing Editor Sean Murphy and the Sennes, who have a personal relationship — the existence of which this newspaper has written publicly many times.

Hodge said the department handled the case legally and the Sennes were treated just like anyone else who is taken to the county jail. Hodge’s Facebook event came one day after he barely survived the Republican primary for sheriff. He will face Macon Davis on Aug. 27 in the Republican runoff. Parrish said the Facebook event was nothing more than the sheriff playing politics.

“I find it utterly repulsive the the sheriff of Jones County trying to advance his political career by piggybacking on the misfortune of an elderly woman and her decorated war-hero husband.”

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