Sheriff: Owner of dogs making progress in caring for animals

Published 12:13 am Sunday, January 20, 2019


NATCHEZ — The owner of several dogs — three of which were discovered to be malnourished Thursday — is making progress in properly caring for the dogs, Adams County Sheriff’s Office officials said Saturday.

The dogs, Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said after checking up on them Saturday afternoon, have been re-wormed and vaccinated.

Email newsletter signup

Patten said the owner also had added hay to the dog’s houses for proper bedding.

“From yesterday to today is like night and day,” Patten said of the progress.

Thursday morning, sheriff’s deputies responded to a dog-in-distress call in the vicinity of the Broadmoor subdivision, to find a pit bull malnourished and lying in a ditch.

While investigating the dog, deputies said they noticed several dogs on a nearby property. Upon inspection of the property, deputies said they found three of eight dogs on the property to be malnourished.

Also on the property, deputies found the carcass of a puppy.

The owner of the property was contacted at work and he came home and voluntarily allowed deputies to search his residence and property.

Patten said no evidence of dogfighting — treadmills, steroids, break sticks, fighting boxes, etc. — was found on the property, so rather than charge the owner with misdemeanor animal cruelty charges, deputies chose to use the opportunity as a “teachable moment” and monitor the progress of the owner and the dogs’ conditions over the next two weeks.

Also, Patten said, no evidence linked the injured and malnourished dog in the ditch to the owner of the other dogs and the dog found in the ditch was taken to the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society.

Deputies, Patten said, also could not make a connection of the property owner to the dead puppy found on the property.

“We could not determine whether he owned that puppy that died,” Patten said. “We could not tell what had happened to that puppy.”

After news of the situation came out, Patten said residents began contacting the sheriff’s office by texting, emailing and posting on social media their disappointment in the sheriff’s office’s decision not to charge the dog owners.

“We could have taken those dogs by law and racked up a bill for the county,” Patten said, adding the county would have had to pay for each dog to be checked out by a veterinarian. “We chose to educate the owners on how to take care of the dogs.”

Patten said the owner had been responsive and cooperative with law enforcement and since he had employment and the means of taking care of the dogs, the sheriff’s office chose to monitor the situation.

“Rather than put that burden on someone else,” Patten said. “We chose to teach them how to be responsible animal owners and how to properly care for the dogs. That’s what we are doing.”

The owner, Patten said, also is paying the bills for the veterinarian, food and housing of the dogs.

Friday after people began sharing the story of the dogs on social media and questioning the sheriff’s office’s decision not to remove the dogs or charge the owner, deputy Karren Ewing posted a statement on behalf of the Adams County Sheriff’s Office on social media and in the comments section of the story on The Natchez Democrat’s website.

“I’m going to explain why the dogs were not removed yesterday.… First of all, NACHS manager Lena McKnight only had room for one adult dog and a puppy,” Ewing wrote. “I knew that ‘Ditch’ needed to be cared for quickly. We transported him to Lena right away. Now, about the dogs on the property. We found three to be extremely malnourished with no available food or water. Four live dogs total outside. One dead outside. A female dog and one puppy inside the residence. I have to say that all of the outside dogs except one had good dry doghouses. One had a barrel….

“If we had arrested him and charged him at that time with five counts of simple animal cruelty for the outside dogs, we would have had to remove them all from the property. OK, I can hear it coming already. ‘What about the ACSO evidence facility/ dog pens?’ Well here’s my answer. It is still being completed. As of yet there is no running water or doghouses for the pens. The upcoming weather is going to be below freezing. So, we had to definitely consider that.”

Ewing went on to explain the sheriff’s office has informed the homeowner that deputies will monitor the situation around the clock and if at any time he is not found to be in compliance, he will be charged and the dogs removed.

Patten said initial checks have showed the owner is making progress.

“Every day we are going to check on those animals to make sure they are properly taking care of their animals,” Patten said. “If it is dogfighting — this wasn’t dogfighting — if it was a dogfighting it would have been different. Animal cruelty is a misdemeanor. Fighting is a felony, so we used this as a teachable moment.”

Ewing and Patten said if residents would like to help, they should contact the humane society to volunteer or make donations to help support the dog found in the ditch and numerous other animals in need there.

The Humane Society’s 2019 membership drive is coming up in March. Memberships are $25 for individuals 18 and older; $50 for a family membership; or $10 for individual youth membership.

The shelter at 475 Liberty Road, Natchez, also is always looking for donations of dry dog food, dry and wet puppy food, dry and wet kitten food, cat litter, paper towels, newspapers, toys, new or gently used linens, Dawn dish detergent, bleach, sanitizing wipes, scrub sponges and Walmart gift cards.

The NACHS is located at 475 Liberty Road, Natchez, MS 39121
and can be reached at 601-442-4001.