Community reaches out to help shelter caring for seized dogs

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Humane Society of South Mississippi took in 52 of the dogs seized from an alleged Stone County puppy mill, on Tuesday.  Officials said Tuesday night, one of them gave birth, making the total number of dogs, 56. They said the shelter would be overwhelmed if it were not for the community support.

Shelter officials said one dog has a broken leg, one has a collapsed trachea, another will likely lose an eye, and almost all of animals have a highly contagious, but treatable, skin condition called Scabies. Once the dogs get a clean bill of health, shelter officials said they hope to begin the process of finding these dogs the loving homes they deserve.

From dropping off food and supplies, to sweeping up around the shelter, people went to the Humane Society of South Mississippi to do what they could for the dogs taken from an alleged puppy mill.

"Giving shots, paperwork, medicating animals. Just anything that needs to be done," said Pam Baucom, volunteer. "Some of them are really really scared but when you interact with them more they just become more calm."

"You feel sad for the dogs because you want them to have love. Volunteering here all the time you see that these dogs just want love," said volunteer Megan Hanson.

On Wednesday, vet technicians did preliminary health assessments and gave vaccinations. Officials said most of the dogs appear to be in overall good health. But, to make sure, the shelter plans to sterilized them all before offering them for adoption.

"When we've had this situation before we've done it the opposite way, where we adopted and then sterilized," said Tara High, Executive Director. "What we found is that it's easier for us to identify to the extent that we possibly can any other issues that are not just easily visible. So when the animals are on the surgery table, the doctors then have an opportunity to really see if there are issues that we've not been able to identify."

High said, "This way we'll be able to disclose with an adopter or potential adopter any issues that we have, instead of waiting for them to fall in love with them, and then say oh we've discovered this during the process of surgery and do you still want the dog?"

Meanwhile, the Stone County Sheriff's deputies said Rowena Priest, 63,  turned herself in Wednesday on a misdemeanor animal cruelty and cruelty charge. Officials said if convicted she faces up to six months in jail and a fine of roughly $700.

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