Pit bulls turn page for new chapters in life in Monroe County
By Ray Van Dusen
ABERDEEN – A moonshine raid by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Feb. 29 led to the subsequent seizure of 14 pit bulls on Okolona Road. While the dogs were found chained to trees and nearly starved to death, according to reports, most have been transitioned into what rescuers hope will be better lives.
“It’s good to take a bad situation that will lead to a happy ending for a lot of these dogs,” said veterinarian Carol Crawford last Friday as volunteers from Shaw Pit Bull Rescue were loading a few of the seized pits up to take back to Columbus to be rehabilitated and eventually adopted to loving homes.
In last week’s case, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office arrested Russell Jones, 67, who was charged with accessory to dog fighting and possession of two stolen guns; Patrick Jones, 22, who was charged with dog fighting; and Jeremy Jones, 26, who was charged with accessory to dog fighting.
Russell was charged by the Alcohol Beverage Control for additional charges of moonshining, possession of marijuana and controlled substances with intent, and Jeremy was charged by the ABC for additional charges of moonshining, possession of marijuana and controlled substances with intent.
In the hours following the arrests, Monroe County Jailhouse Dogs volunteer Sheila Higgins was approached by several people about the dogs.
“I had at least 17 people contact me to ask if I could please check to see if they’re their stolen dogs. I think these are all offspring; these weren’t stolen,” Higgins said.
Dogs tended to by Monroe County Jailhouse Dogs and kept in runs behind the Monroe County Detention Center had to be temporarily fostered to make space for the influx of seized pit bulls last week.
Some of the pit bull puppies were taken by the Amory Humane Society, and Shaw Pit Bull Rescue picked up others.
“We have volunteers come out every Saturday, and these dogs are even around 4-year-olds,” said Amee Shaw, co-founder of the rescue, which was highly recommended to this case by the Mississippi Humane Society Director Lydia Sattler. “A lot of people think if a dog is a fighting dog, they’re people aggressive, but that’s not the case at all.”
In addition to taking in some of the pit bulls seized from the moonshine raid, Shaw Pit Bull Rescue volunteers took in three that had been seized by the city of Aberdeen months ago.
“Most pits are kept separate. When they get around another dog, they’re ready to fight. We have to work them down and get them tired before they listen. After a while, they learn to go with a pack. Some dogs, you can rehabilitate quickly and with some, it depends on dog aggression,” said the rescue’s co-founder Kenneth Shaw.
The ultimate goal is to get the dogs eventually adopted to good homes.
According to portions of Section 97-41-19 of the Mississippi Code of 1972, any person conducting a fight or match between dogs or training or owning a dog with intent of dog fighting shall be guilty of a felony that can be punishable by imprisonment in the state penitentiary for no less than one year and no more than three years and/or between $1,000 and $5,000 in fines.
Along similar lines, Senate Bill 2307, aimed to create a first-offense felony of aggravated abuse for dogs and cats, died in committee Feb. 23 in the Mississippi Legislature.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Michael Vick served 21 months in a Kansas federal prison after a 2007 sentencing for his role in an illegal interstate dog fighting ring on his property in Virginia.
A documentary entitled ‘The Champions’ chronicling what became of Vick’s dogs was released March 1. The film is about the dogs’ second chances and the happy lives they’ve come to live after eventually being adopted. Vick, himself, is living out a second chance as now an animal rights activist.
While dog fighting arrests in Monroe County are rare, Higgins sends a plea to people who see suspicious signs of dog fighting to report them to law enforcement.
In two days, $150 was raised for Shaw Pit Bull Rescue through donations, and more funds are being raised online. For more information about the pit bull rescue, check out www.shawpbr.org or www.facebook.com/shawPBR.
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