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.


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


sharon b
sharon b2 months ago

These pictures need to be seen. It is one of the things that motivates people to act. We tend to deny what is hidden,what isn't in our faces.

Ruth S
Ruth S2 months ago


Karen M
Karen Murphy2 months ago

"...charged with 50 counts of dog fighting – but only one count of aggravated animal cruelty." WTH! One count of dog fighting should automatically equal one count of aggravated animal cruelty.

Jetana A
Jetana A2 months ago

I signed the petition over a year ago.

Peggy B
Peggy B2 months ago

Mary B.....This picture sickens me, however, many people don't realize the limits these dogs are put to and difficult as it is to look at it is necessary for pubic awareness.

Marigold A
Past Member 3 months ago

This picture reminds me of PeTA tactics. Repelling and not conducive to our cause.

Mary B
Mary B3 months ago

This is another of those pictures that needs to be taken down. We know we don't want this kind of thing to continue so all it does it keep people focused on the horror of it. TAKE IT DOWN CARE2 !

Berenice Guedes d

It really can make a normal person feel heart broken!! Where wwill we come with this behavor? Who do we think we are? Who did give us - humans the right to do such things?! There are no words to describe these horrors!!!

Barbara V
Barbara V3 months 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.

Filomena C
Filomena C3 months ago

How it is possible?!