PEARL RIVER COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Pearl River County couple is out on bond after being arrested and charged with 249 city and county violations related to animal neglect and cruelty.
Lynne Hackney, 57, and Milles Allen, 56, are accused of leaving more than 70 dogs unattended for weeks in the hot weather with little food and water. Police seized the animals after they found them living in less than desirable conditions.
Bobbie Shute, President of the Pearl River County SPCA, said, "My heart is absolutely broken that animals have to suffer like this anywhere."
SPCA leaders and Picayune Police say it's the worse case of animal hoarding they've ever encountered. They say more than 70 Australian cattle dogs were discovered in and around a house on East Canal Street in Picayune. They were in sheds and under the carport with very little food and water within their reach.
"The conditions the animals were living in were deplorable. It's a sad situation," said Picayune Police Chief Bryan Dawsey.
The chief said they found eight more dogs, including four puppies at the home Monday afternoon. They, too, were brought into an already crowded animal shelter for treatment.
"They were terrified. They were covered with feces and urine. Some of them had sores, broken teeth, ears with pieces missing off of their ears, lacerations. They were not in good shape," explained Shute.
Authorities said this case first surfaced several weeks ago at a home on Sycamore Road in Pearl River County. Police said the couple used that location to operate a dog breeding business. A neighbor knew there were a lot of dogs in the house, and nobody had been there for weeks.
Police believe the animals were moved to the home on East Canal after the couple learned they were under investigation.
"It appears it was several weeks that they had been unattended," Chief Dawsey said. "The inside of the building they were being housed in, the feces and urine was a couple inches deep."
"The residence was layered in it; it was pretty disgusting," recalled Lt. Joe Cuave with the Pearl River County Sheriff's Department. "Those were definitely nightmarish conditions for a dog to be in."
Shelter leaders say as word spread, members of the community, as well as people from out of state, showed up to volunteer their help. Sue Helmlinger flew in from California to lend a hand. She owns three Australian cattle dogs.
"My middle dog came from one of these situations and I see the impact. Many of these dogs, they're damaged. It will take a very special family to take them," remarked Helmlinger.
Hackney and Allen are scheduled to go to court on December 3. A judge is expected to make a decision on what should happen to the animals sometime within the next two weeks.
The animal shelter has been overwhelmed ever since the dogs were brought in. If you'd like to volunteer your time or make a donation to the Pearl River County SPCA Shelter, you can call (985) 630-9191.
The Picayune Police Officers Association has already committed to making a financial donation to purchase dog food.