MEDIA RELEASE: Justice is Served for Animal Abuser Posing as Rescuer Under Mississippi’s Recently Updated Animal Protection Law
Ellisville, Miss. (October 15, 2020) – In Defense of Animals, the international animal protection organization that operates Hope Animal Sanctuary and the Justice for Animals Campaign in Carroll County, has welcomed a court judgment handed down today against Miranda Kittrell, who is among the first in the state to be charged for animal cruelty under Mississippi’s recently updated Dog and Cat Pet Protection Act of 2011.
Kittrell was originally charged with 39 counts of simple animal cruelty for starving and abandoning dogs on her property in Jones County, while five additional dogs were found dead there. The charges were dropped to 38 counts because one surviving dog was in reasonably good health.
Kittrell was sentenced to 114 months in prison, with 108 months suspended. She will serve one year in prison for this case and previous charges, and is required to pay $3,800 in fines and complete 380 hours of community service.
She is also being required to undergo psychological counseling at her own personal expense, which is expected to cost $3,500, and is prohibited from even being near an animal for the next 15 years. If the terms of her sentencing are not met, she will be ordered to serve nine years in prison.
“We couldn’t be happier to see justice served for all the animals in this case,” said Doll Stanley, In Defense of Animals’ Justice for Animals Campaign Director. “We fought for years alongside other Mississippi animal advocates to update the law so serial animal abusers can now be held accountable for the cruelty they inflict on all their victims. It’s incredibly satisfying to finally see abusers face a count of cruelty for each individual animal who was harmed — that wouldn’t have happened before.”
Kittrell, who claimed to be an animal rescuer, was the subject of a search warrant executed by the Jones County Sheriff’s Department (JCSD) in August. Aided by Southern Pines Animal Shelter, law enforcement removed 39 starved and dehydrated dogs from conditions they described as “heartbreaking” in what was Kittrell’s third offense related to neglected animals.
Rescuers on the scene found dogs everywhere, including in cages, roaming free and trapped in the house on the property. They were all malnourished, covered in fleas and in various need of veterinary care.
Days later the JCSD and Boggy Fire Department responded to a structure fire call at the same address in Seminary, which was Kittrell’s last known residence. The fire is being treated as suspicious.
Kittrell was arrested at a DUI safety checkpoint on Sandersville-Sharon Road on September 5, 2020, on an outstanding warrant. Kittrell had eluded law enforcement following the execution of the seizure order.
“It is particularly distressing when individuals who abuse animals claim to be rescuers,” added Stanley. “Whether someone starts out with good or bad intentions, the shocking results for the animals are the same, and all animal abusers must be dealt with. Trust in the ethics and dedication of animal rescuers is essential to the rescue, rehabilitation, and placement of animals in need. Trust is also paramount in gaining the cooperation and respect of law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and the backing of the public in situations like this one.”
Kittrell was facing a six-month jail sentence and/or a $1,000 fine for each count of cruelty. Before the enactment of SB 2658 on July 1 this year, which updated the Mississippi Dog and Cat Pet Protection Act of 2011, Kittrell could only have been charged with one count of animal cruelty for the suffering of the 39 animals she stood accused of starving and abandoning.
In Defense of Animals has served animals and communities in the Deep South for 27 years. The organization carries out educational initiatives and directly rescues and rehomes abused, neglected and homeless animals through its Hope Animal Sanctuary in Mississippi. Its Justice for Animals campaign aids law enforcement and courts to prevent, investigate and prosecute animal cruelty, and works with legislators to both create and improve animal protection laws.
Contact: Doll Stanley, firstname.lastname@example.org, (662) 809-4483
In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 37-year history of protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats through education, campaigns, and hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi. https://www.idausa.org/campaign/justice-for-animals
### ENDS ###