Pittance Fine for Deprivation Death of Puppy Stoke Outrage for Animal Advocates

Pittance Fine for Deprivation Death of Puppy Stoke Outrage for Animal Advocates

Winona, MS (March 11, 2019) – In Defense of Animals was in court Thursday, March 7 for the trial of a woman who abandoned a puppy to die a slow and excruciating death of hunger and dehydration. The puppy’s corpse was found atop a pile of trash with rotten meat laying on the kitchen counter, out of the pup’s reach. Animal advocates are outraged at the penalty handed to the abuser and are calling for judges to enforce the law.

“Moore abandoned her puppy to an excruciatingly painful death, yet walked away with a penalty equivalent to a citation for littering,” said Doll Stanley, of In Defense of Animals.

On February 13, 2019, Winona Animal Control Officer Arlin Pearson was summoned to 45 HWY 407, in Winona, Mississippi. An individual hired to clean the vacant home discovered the dead puppy along with a filthy residence laden with feces and open packages of meat left to rot on the kitchen counter. The open meat was likely intended to permeate the property with a foul odor to spite the resident’s eviction. The meat was out of reach of the starving puppy who must have struggled in vain to reach it.

ACO Pearson had previously been called to the property when the constable served the eviction notice on the resident, Melissa Moore. ACO Pearson cited Moore for a violation of the Winona City Ordinance at that time. On February 13, ACO Pearson took steps to file a charge of animal cruelty for the gruesome death of the unnamed puppy. Melissa Moore, 39 years-of-age, was charged with animal cruelty under Mississippi Title 97, Crimes MS ST Section 97-41-16 (2.) (b.).

March 7, 2019, Melissa Moore was tried for the deprivation death of the puppy. Winona Municipal Court Judge Devo Lancaster found Moore guilty of the charge of animal cruelty and handed her a fine of just $327.25, partially made up of court costs. To add insult to injustice, Moore was advised that she could make payments of $35 per week and she receive zero jail time or an admonition from Judge Lancaster.

“It is frustrating to see animal cruelty continue to get a slap on the wrist in Winona after the mishandling of the outrageous dog burning case just three years ago. We urge judges to use available animal cruelty penalties - laws are useless if they are not enforced.”

Melissa Moore could have been handed a fine of up to $2,500 and, or a six-month term of imprisonment for the excruciatingly painful death her puppy endured.

Just three years ago In Defense of Animals and the Winona Animal Advocacy Group influenced the Winona Board of Aldermen to amend the city ordinance to repeal the maximum $100 fine imposed on a man who torched his live dog to replace the animal cruelty section of the city ordinance with language imposing state animal cruelty statutes.

“Animal advocates have repeatedly sought increased penalties for aggravated animal cruelty only to be told by Mississippi legislators that there is no point in their raising the penalties for animal cruelty when judges are not imposing the penalties already set in law,” commented Doll Stanley of In Defense of Animals. “As much as we hate to embarrass judges and prosecuting attorneys, it is time for them to realize that they are civil servants who are voted in by citizens that support the prosecution of all crimes, including maximum penalties for egregious acts of violence and cruelty to animals,” added Stanley.

In Defense of Animals and Animal Advocacy Initiative of Mississippi are holding workshops for officials and citizens across Mississippi with information on how to resolve recurring animal protection issues, including the revision and establishment of sound animal protection ordinances.

In Defense of Animals has served in Mississippi for 26 years. The international animal protection organization operates Hope Animal Sanctuary in Grenada, Mississippi, and the Justice for Animals Campaign in Winona, Mississippi.


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In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 36-year history of protecting animals’ rights, welfare and habitats through education, campaigns, and hands on-rescue operations in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi.

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