In Defense of Animals Celebrates 25 Years of Service to Mississippi Animals
In February, 1993, In Defense of Animals staff arrived in Mississippi to conduct an on the ground undercover investigation of two dealers reportedly selling stolen animals to laboratories. It took us six months, engaging regional and national media to take the Mississippi USDA Class B dealers down.
The USDA repeatedly dismissed the photos, videos, and other condemning evidence we presented to it. The government agency responsible for ensuring that animals destined for laboratories are legally acquired had already failed to address over 750 violations of the Animal Welfare Act that we discovered through Freedom of Information Act requests accrued by each of the men in their damnable operations.
The dealers bought dogs from “bunchers,” repulsive humans who respond to "free to good home" ads and steal dogs off the streets and from yards. They volunteered as animal control officers for communities that could not afford to pay an officer, thrusting helpless animals into a hell they would never return from. The investigation took us to auctions and trade and sell days, and we interviewed scores of grieving guardians who had cause to believe the fiends had stolen their beloved companion animals. A heartless Arkansas dealer they conspired with would later be convicted and his operation shut down, suffering the loss of his freedom, property, and finances.
During the six months in which it took us to outwit the dealers and the USDA, we were asked to aid with other cruelty cases. We made friends with fellow animal protectionists and began working with them and law enforcement agencies in counties across the state. We were in the right place at the right time and we were needed.
Astoundingly, within a few years we had closed vile puppy mills, freed animals from horrendous hoarding cases, and filed six hundred and eighty-three counts of cruelty against a Poplarville, Mississippi pet shop supplier on behalf of the dead and dying animals he had exploited. He was also convicted and his operation shut down.
It seemed that every road we turned down led to tragic suffering. There was a day-care center that couldn’t let its children into its yard because an cruel couple kept eighty-six lions, twenty-two stallions, a pack of dogs as well as various tigers, bears, a liger, a camel, and a puma, in the most incredibly perilous and cruel confinement.
Then there was the pet shop owner locking the door to her shop and driving away leaving every creature she helplessly confined to die of dehydration. She was aware of our services but didn’t call for help. She didn’t call the property owner, or even put a note on the door – “Free Animals”. Her speaking cockatoo priced at $1,800 lay decaying on the bottom of his cage as did all of the innocent creatures who had already survived the breeding facilities they came from.
Sadly, we were forced to close “animal shelters” operated by “humane societies” in which crowded and diseased animals died and killed one another.
There were no cases too small or too large. Because of the trust our donors and members had in us, we literally saved thousands of animals from emus, to pigs, to languishing big cats kept in horrid confinement is backyards. We freed hundreds of chickens from an egg farm that allowed our investigator to remove exhausted, broken-down hens. The hens had been left for preying raccoons, cats, and dogs to drag from their cages, and the floors of the hen houses where thousands of birds were crammed into filthy cages to lay their precious lives away. The greater percentage of the birds died of swollen head syndrome, a disease caused by living in filth with no treatment or cure. Others never made it out, stuck in the waste channels beneath their tiered cages.
A single animal or a multitude of animals, each individual suffered and each one deserved to be freed from the hell humans had put them into.
The great news is that we never left. Caring people all over Mississippi worked and continue to work with us for a cruelty free state. Don’t let the news of the horrors that surface in Mississippi tarnish the beauty this state does offer. From the people who report cruelty to the law enforcement officers and judges who meet out justice, Mississippi does sometimes stand against cruelty.
Today we continue to fight cruelty and save animals. We are actively work to change the laws that will protect animals across the Deep South. Legislators are often suspicious of legislation to protect animals, but we are forming and working with grass root groups and coalitions that are the heart of Mississippi. Our cases have already led to the passage of statues among which regulate the keeping of exotic and potentially dangerous animals, made the intentional harming of livestock a felony, and banned hog dog rodeos.
While fighting animal abuse, we established Hope Animal Sanctuary in Grenada Mississippi to save its victims. The sanctuary continues to give haven to animals we rescue, providing a safe place for their care, rehabilitation and placement in loving forever homes. After 25 years of service to thousands of animals, we are rebuilding the crumbling sanctuary and our emerging facilities will serve Mississippi’s neediest animals for many years to come.
In 2015, we established our Justice for Animals Campaign to focus on joining with our fellow Mississippians to provide the resources and knowledge to aid law enforcement with the reports they respond to for ill treated animals. We work with prosecuting attorneys, judges, veterinarians, fellow humane representatives, and the public for the passage of humane ordinances and statutes and to see abusers charged, convicted, and sentenced for their indefensible treatment of the animals.
We are a force for change and you can help us by acting now to join this and other life-saving In Defense of Animals campaigns. Please support our efforts and engage with us in righting the wrongs committed against our fellow species.