MEDIA RELEASE: Couple Charged Following Rescue of 70+ Dogs in Mississippi

MEDIA RELEASE: Couple Charged Following Rescue of 70+ Dogs in Mississippi

DECATUR, Miss. (Aug. 30, 2023)In Defense of Animals, which operates Hope Animal Sanctuary and the Justice for Animal campaign in Mississippi, applauds the Newton County justice system for binding over to the grand jury the Newton County couple charged with six felonies each for their roles in causing the suffering and deaths of what could be as many as 140 dogs.

On July 11, defendants Natalie Francher Patten and William Patten were arrested on six felony charges of aggravated cruelty to a dog or a cat. Their bond was set at $60,000.

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On July 10, Doll Stanley, Senior Campaigner for In Defense of Animals, responded to a call from rescuer and advocate Jackie Therrien seeking guidance and assistance in rescuing what would become more than 70 dogs in the care of Second Paw Dog Rescue at two properties in Newton. Therrien and friends began feeding and watering the living dogs while discovering scores of remains of others.

Stanley contacted Newton County Sheriff Joedy Pennington to offer assistance to organize for the rescue of the dogs, which he warmly accepted.

On July 11, Stanley visited the first property where dogs perished in metal crates in the sun, lay tethered to trees, wheel barrels, pens, and fences. Dozens of survivors were still in those conditions. 

On a separate property, another 35 dogs were found running around loose with many others trapped inside a trailer that was filled with trash, feces, and urine. Ten pups were found deceased and bagged. Two dogs and one puppy were immediately euthanized on-site because nothing could be done to save them. 

The survivors had been left starving and dehydrated in filth, had fleas and ticks, illnesses and injuries; many tethered dogs had dental problems, likely from trying to chew themselves to freedom. 

“Photographing and videoing I realized I was stunned when I fixated on the remains of a female dog and a pup who decomposed beside her. I’ve aided with hundreds of cruelty cases, but this was a surreal horror. Whether it’s one animal or hundreds suffering together, considering their individual pain disturbs to the core,” said Stanley. 

Stanley was able to share the images that would aid associates in deciding their roles during an extremely difficult time when rescues and shelters are being overwhelmed. 

“2023 is the worst year the rescue world has seen in a long time. Every shelter, rescue, and rescuer is at caring capacity or greater, and adoptions and transports are stalled,” Stanley lamented.

The Mississippi Animal Rescue League’s director and veterinarian came the next morning to assess the urgent medical needs of the dogs. A dying dog was rushed to a local veterinarian.

In Defense of Animals was joined by the BISSELL Pet Foundation and Animal Rescue Corps (ARC) for the cost of their rescue, transport and care of the dogs they saved.

ARC contracted with a regional veterinarian who assisted with examining, vaccinating, and documenting the dogs, who were moved to the organization’s emergency shelter in Tennessee. Sheriff Pennington secured the crime scenes, compiled evidence for arrests, and organized county responders to ensure safety and immediate medical assistance if needed. The weather was taxing for everyone involved in processing, vetting and loading the dogs.

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Contact: Doll Stanley, [email protected], (662) 809-4483 


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In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 40-year history of protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats through education, campaigns, and its hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi.


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