Jonean Crowle and her family run the South Mississippi Animal Rescue Team and Refuge. She says initially her Pass Christian neighborhood embraced both.
"We've never had any problems with anybody. No problems with the law. No problems with people," said Crowle. "We're just a real quiet family who likes to do things for the community. This was our way of giving back to the community. When it starts coming to where we have to be afraid of the least little thing going wrong, I'd rather leave and find a peaceful place to be."
Some neighbors complained of noise and smell after the refuge began taking in a larger number of animals. Crowle says that was done after the hurricane at the request of the city. On Tuesday, the board of aldermen voted that the shelter must relocate from the property the Crowle family owns because the land is not zone for that use. Crowle says despite the city's order to move, she won't cut any corners in the adoption policy to find new homes for the 150 dogs or for the cats, goats and turtles.
"We want to make sure that the animals are really wanted and not like Easter bunnies where people go on a whim then two weeks later don't want it," she said. "We want to make sure they get along with the animal. The animal fits in with their family."
Crowle says some animals are missing limbs. Many others are Katrina refugees still traumatized by the storm.
She said, "It's terrifying because it's a lot of animals and a lot of them are special needs animals that are not adoptable. That's what we specialized in before the storm. We specialize in aggressives. We're certified for that. We deal with trauma cases. We deal with personality disorders, physical disorders so those animals will stay with us."
Other shelters have offered to help but none can take all the animals. Crowle say some animals will have to be separated from their caregivers unless someone with a large tract of land agrees to lease the property.
"We would rather, even if it's temporary, move with the animals until we can get a permanent location. That way they don't have to try to get used to new people. The traumatized dogs, some of them are just starting to come around from swimming in 37 feet of water. They're still afraid of storms, the things we work on a constant basis. I don't want them to get switched to some place else and have to start over. I'd rather they just continue with us."
Jonean Crowle says she was told by the city last month that the animal refuge was not properly zoned. She says a death in the family prevented her from filing the necessary paperwork by Tuesday's board of aldermen meeting. Crowle says she hasn't yet been notified as to how long she has to move the refuge.
If you have land available for lease call 228-254-6084.