Mississippi’s Biggest Animal Abuse Case May Lead to Tougher State Laws

In what’s been called the largest animal abuse case in Mississippi’s history, more than 56 injured and starving pit bulls were rescued earlier this month from truly hellish conditions at a suspected dog-fighting farm.

“We have dogs, some with their legs bitten off, one with its lower jaw missing,” Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said in a press release. “You have a bone yard out here in plain view. They didn’t have the decency to bury the dogs.”

Most of the surviving dogs were chained to logs, stakes, trees and underneath an RV. Yet despite their horrible ordeal, many wagged their tails when investigators arrived on the two-acre property. One dog with a mangled leg limped up to Adams County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) Maj. Jerry Brown and, whimpering, rested his head on his rescuer’s foot.

“Look how friendly they are,” Brown told The Natchez Democrat. “They’re loving.”

The owner of the property, Tommie Queen, was charged with 50 counts of dog fighting – but only one count of aggravated animal cruelty. He is currently out on bail.

Mississippi has the dubious distinction of ranking in last place on the Humane Society of the United States’ list of the worst U.S. states for animal protection policies. But that may change, with all those abused pit bulls proving to be the motivation for tougher animal cruelty laws in the state.

After all, over in Pennsylvania, a Boston terrier puppy rescued from near death in a puppy mill became the inspiration for “Libre’s Law,” enacted in June. Thanks in large part to little Libre, animal cruelty can now be charged as a felony offense in the state.

But in Mississippi, unfortunately, it’s still merely a misdemeanor to intentionally or negligently wound, deprive of shelter, food or water, or cruelly confine a dog or cat. The pathetically paltry maximum fine is $1,000 and up to six months in prison, or both. It’s a felony to intentionally torture a dog or cat, but the fine is only up to $2,500, with the same maximum of six months in prison. (Mississippi’s laws are tougher for harming livestock. It’s a felony to maliciously or mischievously injure farm animals, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and up to five years in prison.)

“The thing is, (the law for domesticated animals) is so lax,” Karren Ewing of the ACSO told The Natchez Democrat. “When you walk on a scene like we did with so many animals lying there injured and dying, without proving that he’s fighting them, all we have is a misdemeanor.”

So, what’s stopping the state from cracking down harder on animal cruelty? It’s the Mississippi House of Representative and State Senate Agriculture Committee, according to State Sen. Robert Dearing, who has long fought for tougher laws. But Dearing is finally seeing a light at the end of a very frustrating tunnel.

He plans to make the Mississippi Legislature aware of animal protection laws in other states. To help convince lawmakers to enact similar laws, he’ll bring visual aids: Gruesome photos of the injured pit bulls on Queen’s property.

“Let me take these pictures back up to the capitol, and ask for a hearing in front of the committee and show them these pictures, just to show them how terrible this situation was down here, and maybe we can get something done that way,” Dearing told The Natchez Democrat.

Robert Greene, president of the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society (NACHS), is also optimistic that the pit bulls’ ordeal will inspire changes in Mississippi’s animal cruelty laws. “This has provided huge impetus to follow through,” he told The Natchez Democrat. He said he wants to start a lobbying group to advocate for tougher laws, and to persist until the laws are actually enacted.

Besides helping to inspire tougher animal cruelty laws in Mississippi, there’s hopefully good news for many of the rescued pit bulls. The dogs, initially cared for by the NACHS, are now in the care of the ASPCA. Here’s hoping most of them can eventually spend the rest of their lives in loving homes, just like many of the “Vicktory Dogs” that were rescued from Michael Vick’s dog-fighting operation 10 years ago.

TAKE ACTION

Please sign and share this petition urging Mississippi legislators to enact tougher animal cruelty laws so abusers like Queen don’t get away with what basically amounts to a slap on the wrist.

Photo credit: ACSO Animal Rescue/GoFundMe.com

153 comments

Barbara V
Barbara V1 days ago

Do you think anything will ever be done about the horror of animal abuse? Do you think this kind of human vermin will ever be eradicated from the planet? I have my doubts because most people tolerate evil; they're attracted to it. They rationalize it. That says plenty for our sick society--a society so sick, it doesn't do anything about the vermin running the country; it votes them in and lets them cheat. If nothing is done about that, then who is going to save animals from the likes of human filth? Nothing will ever be done unless we the complacent people demand it. Otherwise, unlike innocent animals, we will deserve what ultimately happens to us. Be forewarned that it's in process since evil is tolerated. Thus, the suffering of innocent species at the hands of evil.

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Filomena C
Filomena C2 days ago

How it is possible?!

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Filomena C
Filomena C2 days ago

Poor dogs!
Pure cruelty! Inhumane.

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Filomena C
Filomena C2 days ago

Very very sad! Inhumane! Pure cruelty!
Poor dogs!

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Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe2 days ago

I wish I didn't watch the video. Now, I can't stop crying for those poor dogs. I don't understand how anyone could enjoy watching dogs being torn apart!! Rest in Peace to the ones who will be euthanized, and praying for a healthy recovery to the others who will hopefully be placed in a home where they can be loved.

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Nicole H

The idea of Mr. Dearing seems very ok. But the sooner he starts, the better, then may be Mr. Queen will NOT steal the show in Court House.... I hope this is the very last time we see such massive massacre of dogs. Sorry to say, but the U.S.A. is a country full of abnormal laws and penalties, which you find NOWHERE else !!! On many fields you are definitely the NUMBER 1, regretfully it are NOT the good fields !!!

If nothing changes now, after such a barbarism on highest level, I can but conclude that the State is very corrupt, and share in the profit of dog fighting. Then it's up to the Legal Department to find out who is involved, and punish them severely !

And have police Authorities never heard of "undercover operations". You just need 1 or 2 people, who mingle with visitors, pay entrance, put a bet on a favorite dog, and make photos or videos with micro cameras (in a pen, or glasses) When private investigators can buy this material, police must be able to get it too.. And then you could identify the organizer, the animal owners, AND THE VISITORS... They are also partially responsible !!

P.S. : If this is the video they are showing to the Judge, I can understand that no real DOG FIGHTING can be shown. All dogs are so far away, you can hardly see one injury...

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Nicole H

Charged for 50 dog fighting and ONE for aggravated cruelty (which one ???) and Mr. QUEEN IS FREE and can have a very nice christmas feast and New Year feast??? MY GOD.. WHERE IS THE HUMAN SENCE OF MANY JUDGES ??? Reading the max. penalty is $ 2,500 and 6 months of jail, then I FALL FROM MY CHAIR !! This is NOT possible : 50 animals, in such bad state, for only 6 months of jail means resp. $ 50 and 3.6 days of jail per dog !!! UNBELIEVABLE !! This is for a misdemeanor, and not for FELONY. And 50 abused, beaten up, injured and emaciated dogs is A FELONY !! He should at least have a fine of $ 4,500 (ONLY $ 300/dog) and an average of 70 days/dog, depending on the gravity of its condition. On top of this ALL veterinary costs to be paid BY HIM. With dog fighting (without any doubt), he must have earned enough money to pay for this !!!! He must be PUT AN EXAMPLE. WITH THE ACTUAL PENALTIES, NO DOG OWNER WILL STOP, and the suffering of hundreds and hundreds of dogs will continue !! THIS CAN NOT BE TOLERATED. If I understand it well, you can only be punished for FELONY when there is proof of dog fighting. Sure, the dog owner will allow you to stand there for hours, taking 1 or 2 shots of each fight equals 2 dogs, and then he is punished for 2 dogs only ?? Or did I misunderstand that law ??? .../2

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christine s
christine s4 days ago

I just cannot find words to describe my feelings on this one ,how can people do this ???,it's beyond sick , I can't find the words it's just evil.

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Angelika Kempter

I agree with Denise S

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Denise S
Denise S5 days ago

What do you mean, May change the laws? If they do not change the law they are just as sick!!! What is wrong with people in this world? All these sicko's should be put on an island far away from normal people and they can just kill each other!

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