Turn This Horror Shelter Into an Animal Haven

Turn This Horror Shelter Into an Animal Haven

This alert is no longer active, but here for reference. Animals still need your help.

A publicly funded shelter in Mississippi turned into a nightmare for animals who should have been provided with a much-needed haven, but were instead left to suffer or be killed. Now, however, thanks to work by In Defense of Animals with local activists and whistleblowers, it's finally being shut down. We need your help right now to urge city officials to contract with a reputable organization that will turn this facility into a true, lifesaving shelter for homeless animals.

The shelter, which was run by Mississippi Critterz, was contracted by both the City of Oxford and Lafayette County, and was contracted by the city to run animal control services. Tragically, it had been plagued with serious issues, and animals were known to be suffering.

After months of urging city officials to intervene on behalf of the animals there, whistleblowers finally blew the lid off. Photos appeared on Facebook of sick and injured kittens; dogs were seen cramped in cages, and the shelter was visibly filthy, lending more evidence to the deplorable treatment and conditions that animals were subjected to there.

On February 16, Leigh Ann Hubbard founded the Oxford Animal Shelter Watchdogs group to expose these conditions, and work towards a solution. The next day, Angela Avery and KD Luttrell, concerned community members, filed charges at City Hall, which initiated an investigation by the Oxford Police Department and the Lafayette County Sheriff's Department.

Leaked audio of a Mississippi Critterz board meeting further exposed awareness of ongoing animal suffering at the shelter, yet no action was taken.

In March, Doll Stanley, In Defense of Animals' Justice for Animals Campaign Director, Kelsey Hansen, DVM, and Hubbard requested access to the shelter but were denied, and the police were called on the three with the false claim they were blocking entry to the shelter.

After being denied entry by Mississippi Critterz, they enlisted the help of Dr. Phil Bushby, who co-authored the Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters for the Association of Shelter Veterinarians. Following a vigil held by In Defense of Animals and Oxford Animal Shelter Watchdogs, he was joined by Kathy Kvam, DVM, of Oxford's Crossroads Animal Hospital, for an inspection on March 4.

Even with a six day notice, the shelter's executive director was nowhere to be found, and the resulting report was scathing:

Put briefly, the shelter violates even the most basic standards of care for animals in animal shelters. There was no identifying information (names or numbers) on the animal enclosures or on the animals. There were no records available for review and no medical records. The Board member could not tell us exactly how many animals were present in the shelter at the time of our visit. (She estimated 100 dogs). In addition, the Board member could not provide any statistics related to intake numbers, number of animals adopted, number placed in foster care, numbers transported to other rescues or shelters or numbers of animals euthanized.

One half to two-thirds of the dogs were in small stainless-steel cages or temporary wire cages. Standards require that primary enclosures be large enough for animals to stand, sit in a normal posture, stretch, turn around and lie down with the ability to extend their limbs. Most, if not all, of the cages were so small they failed to meet this standard. There were dogs in cages so small that the dogs could not stand up. Other dogs in cages so small that they would not have been able to turn around.

At an emergency board meeting that ensued, members resigned and were ousted, and a week later the shelter was closed to intake, and this week the animals there were removed by Animal Rescue Corps.

What YOU Can Do — TODAY:



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