Hope Animal Sanctuary (HAS) and the Charleston, Mississippi Police Department worked together in July to rescue six starving, chained dogs from Sanders’ property on West Main Street in Charleston. Videotape of the dogs’ conditions and the rescues may be seen by clicking here. Doll Stanley, the Director of HAS, filed the affidavits in support of criminal neglect charges. Two of the dogs have since died.
“The entire town of Charleston, especially Animal Control Officer Kevin Hodges, deserves praise for their handling of this case,” said Stanley. “When ACO Hodges sees abuse, he acts. When he needs assistance he calls me. The chief has a zero tolerance policy for animal abuse, the PD act, and Kevin is spotter and town crier. The crowning testimony to the compassion of the community is Judge Steve Ross.”
The beautiful Mona Lisa was one of the dogs rescued.
Sanders was found guilty on six counts for failure to provide sufficient and wholesome food and water, the only statute available for charging these crimes. “While we are thrilled with the conviction,” added Stanley, “this points out the need for stronger animal cruelty statutes in Mississippi, and we urge all those who care about animals to contact Mississippi House Speaker Billy McCoy to ask his support for stronger statutes.”
The Mississippi State Supreme Court has ruled MSSS: 97-41-1 (Mississippi’s animal cruelty statute) vague and therefore unconstitutional. Since that ruling, there has been no revision of this statute, or the Chapter 41 statutes addressing the neglect of animals. IDA’s Hope Animal Sanctuary is working with veterinarians, humane representatives, concerned citizens and other leaders to strengthen Mississippi’s cruelty to animals statutes.
Judge Ross imposed a $75 fine for the conviction for each dog (6), a $95 court cost for trying each count, and $25 per count for the enforcement of the arrest warrants. Sanders may not possess an animal for three (3) years and was handed a six-month suspended jail term provided she complies with sentencing provisions.
“The responsibility of achieving justice for the animals who suffer at the hands of abusers weighs on all of us,” added Stanley. “But this trial couldn’t have gone more perfectly – and we are cheered by the thrilling recovery of the four dogs who survived Annie Ruth Sanders back yard.”