Group forms to help find solutions for animal welfare issues

Published 7:00 am Friday, March 28, 2014

On Tuesday, Pearl River County Realtors and affiliates organized a group to become an active voice in clarifying county animal welfare laws and raise awareness of the negative economic impact poor code enforcement and pet stewardship causes.

They were joined by board members of the Pearl River County SPCA, Animal Adoption Society, Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero and County Board Attorney Joe Montgomery as well as Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith.

This meeting stemmed from their ongoing frustration that peaked during the recent ice storm.

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“I was showing a very nice home when my clients noticed a group of dogs that were chained to a post and had nothing for cover but blue barrels with icicles hanging down from them,” real estate agent and group organizer Bobbie Shute, said. “There was no bedding or straw for them to stay warm and the tops of the barrels had holes in it. Temperatures were freezing and my clients said that they did not want to live in a place where it was appropriate to leave pets in that state.”

Shute attempted to call the sheriff’s department and said that they are good about going out to check but the current laws prevent them from taking action at times.

“The ordinances currently say that animals must have adequate shelter but leaves interpretation for what adequate is up to the owners,” Shute said. “I think the hands of law enforcement are currently tied due to the vagueness of the language laws pertaining to animal welfare.”

Shute and other real estate professionals spoke to the County Board of Supervisors on Feb. 19 to ask for guidance in facilitating change. From this meeting they were told to organize as a group.

Tuesday’s meeting was the first step in organizing their effort. At that time Shute was chosen as president, Martha Ford was chosen as vice- president; Jane Coleman was chosen as secretary, Brenda Nirenberg is treasurer. The board will also have a veterinarian and Tom Sagar of Ridgeland; Miss., will be the advisor on their board.

“We are not looking to dump problems in someone’s lap,” said Shute. “We are looking to be part of the solution. We are canvassing for opinions and suggestions. We have a lot of work ahead of us. I am excited about it. It is validating that so many are joining and looking to help.”

Coleman said that she believed in the power of numbers. The more people the group has, the more success they will achieve as a catalyst for change.

“I think we need better laws,” Coleman said. “Better laws will attract people in a higher income bracket. This will be reflected in local business sales and tax base. Even without the positive impact on the economy, it is just the right thing to do.”

“This is a really important issue that impacts everyone in our county,” Ford said. “I hope everyone who cares about their pets and participating in county progress and growth, will join us at our next meeting.”

The next meeting for the group is set for Thursday, April 10, at 3:30 p.m. at the Crosby Library. Anyone who would like to be involved in the group can contact Shute at either 601-799-4100 or 601-463-0174. Ford can be reached at either 601-798-6202 or 601-590-2988.