UPDATE: Law enforcement confirms more than 56 dogs discovered at dog-fighting operation

Published 4:10 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2017

NATCHEZ — Law enforcement officials confirmed midday Tuesday more than 56 wounded and hungry dogs were discovered at suspected dog-fighting farm after an anonymous tip warned of a possible dog-fighting ring.

The number of dogs affected rose steadily Tuesday morning as county sheriff’s deputies found more animals chained to logs, stakes, trees, tailpipes and the underside of an RV in a field of approximately two acres at 29 1/2 Miracle Road in the Cranfield community in eastern Adams County.

Dogs whined and barked as deputies moved among them Tuesday morning. Some growled or strained against their chains. Others stood timidly, wagging their tails staring at the officers.

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One unchained dog, its leg mangled and swollen, limped forward and put its head on a deputy’s foot, whining softly.

“Look how friendly they are,” Adams County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Jerry Brown said. “They’re loving.”

Another of the dozens of dogs, primarily pit bulls or pit mixes, was missing more than half of its jaw. The dog’s swollen and infected mouth hung limply and as it tried to bark, only a soft wheeze emerged from its throat.

“It can’t eat,” Sheriff Travis Patten said, looking at the wounded animal. “If that doesn’t turn your stomach, nothing will.”

On Facebook Tuesday morning, a person who claimed to be the property’s owner, Tommie Queen, wrote that he cares for wounded animals and has been out of town. Queen’s post has since been deleted.

“Everything on this property is his responsibility,” Patten said. “Somebody is going to jail for this.”

The Adams County Sheriff’s Officer issued a warrant for Queen’s arrest Tuesday evening for aggravated cruelty to animals and possession of stolen property.

Patten said Tuesday evening that they had not yet located Queen, but that an attorney representing him had contacted the sheriff’s office.

A search warrant for the property was issued Tuesday morning and officers were finally allowed to enter the multiple trailers and RVs on the site.

A 2007 Ford F250 in the front yard, one of five cars on the property, was reportedly stolen from the Prentiss area.

Inside the structures, Patten said, were more animals, some too weak to rise from the floor.

Stanley Searcy II, a criminal investigator with the sheriff’s office, said he was one of the first people on the scene Monday night.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Searcy said. “This is bad, heartbreaking. No animal should be mistreated like this. It’s unreal.”

Behind the trailers in a shaded ravine, Deputy Carla Dunn said officers found more than 25 dog skulls.

It appears, officers said, that whoever ran the operation had been tossing bodies into the gully for some time.

Animal skulls littered the ground in what officers are calling the “boneyard.” Some skulls, vertebrae and ribs have begun to disintegrate.

Whatever is happening on the property, deputies said, has been going on for a long time.

Back in the yard, the dogs started barking, howling and straining at their ties when a man approached from the side of the trailer with food.

As two inmates walked among the animals and poured out scoops of food on the ground, the dogs began devouring the kibble so quickly that some of them could not breathe and began choking.

Authorities were still searching for Queen. The sheriff said anyone who knows his whereabouts is asked to call his office.

Patten said Queen’s attorney contacted the sheriff’s office Tuesday, but Queen has not communicated with sheriff’s deputies.

“We’re hoping to rid our community of it, but the reality is until state laws become more effective, the problem is going to continue,” Patten said. “If you have 57 dogs, and we can only charge him on one count of animal cruelty, you have a problem with the laws.”

Patten said given the severity of the case, the sheriff’s office might seek to charge Queen with aggravated cruelty to animals, which carries more potential penalties, including a fine of up to $2,500 and up to six months in prison.