Woman charged with animal cruelty after officers inspect shelter - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Woman charged with animal cruelty after officers inspect shelter

Jonean Crowle (Photo source: Harrison Co. Sheriff's Dept.) Jonean Crowle (Photo source: Harrison Co. Sheriff's Dept.)

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) – "We don't use snares!  We don't use snares!" Jonean Crowle screamed, after seeing wildlife officials take a snare and some carriers into her animal refuge Tuesday afternoon.

"I've been doing this for 25 years and never had anyone accuse me of animal cruelty," Crowle said as tears filled her eyes.

Crowle and her family run the South Mississippi Animal Rescue Team and Refuge off Landon Road in Harrison County.  Around 9am, Harrison County Animal Control Officers and Humane Society leaders converged on her no-kill shelter, after receiving a complaint from a volunteer.

"Abuse and neglect on a criminal level. That's what I'm saying," said John Maas, who made that complaint.

Maas is a member of the national animal organization American Humane and started volunteering at the refuge last Friday.

"I noticed malnutrition on dogs, parasitic dogs, starving dogs, no food, no water, no medical care," said Maas.  "There's a horse back there with 10 inch long hooves walking on its wrists. Things like that have to be addressed."

After inspecting the animals, the sheriff raised concerns about the condition of the animals and the refuge.

"We have 225, 230 dogs.  We have 75 to 80 cats.  We have goats.  We have a pony that its hooves are so overgrown, it can't even walk.  A majority of animals, it appears, may be pretty healthy. But the conditions that they're in.  There are two to three crammed into little crates. Nobody knows when these animals have been taken out," said Sheriff Melvin Brisolara.

But Crowle said some of the animals were in cages, because she was in the process of moving them to a new location, about a mile west of the current site.

"We've got aggressive animals that are just fine with us.  We're a special needs rescue.  We've taken excellent care of the animals and they won't talk to the vet.  They won't talk to anyone," said Crowle.

She became visibly upset and angry when she said:  "They just want to come in here and shut us down because we are a no kill.  Because people like us, and it's just not fair.  It's not fair to those animals.  They didn't ask for this."

"I don't see where any individual or any single group, like the conditions you can see from here, can expect to take care of animals properly in these conditions," said Sheriff Brisolara.  "They're in open crates.  They're in the weather and something has got to be done.  This is not the way you take care of animals."

Crowle was taken to jail in handcuffs and charged with several misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.  Meanwhile, the fate of her animals is still unknown.

Sheriff Brisolara said the animals will stay on the property overnight and will be taken care of by his Animal Control officers.  Two possums and a raccoon were removed and taken to a doctor for observation.

The sheriff said he will ask Crowle to voluntarily give up the rest of the animals. If not, he said he may have to take legal action to seize them.  He said one option is to ask national organizations to help rehabilitate the animals and get them adopted. 

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