Pearl River County shelter awarded custody of seized dogs

Published 7:00 am Sunday, October 26, 2014

SPECIAL CARE: Dogs seized in a recent animal neglect case have been given to the local animal shelter by the court. However nine dogs given to the shelter by the suspect’s family were returned. Photo by Jeremy Pittari

SPECIAL CARE: Dogs seized in a recent animal neglect case have been given to the local animal shelter by the court. However nine dogs given to the shelter by the suspect’s family were returned.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

Custody of 60 of the 69 dogs seized in a recent animal cruelty case has been granted to the Pearl River County SPCA.
PRCSPCA Director Judy Wheaton said the court made their decision Thursday afternoon.
However court documents state the shelter has to return six adults and three puppies back to the defendant. All of the dogs were seized in a simple animal cruelty case that led to the arrests of 57-year-old Lynne Hackney and her husband, 56-year-old Miles Allen, on Oct. 10. The couple was arrested at a home located at 2202 E. Canal St. in Picayune.
Ever since, the dogs, most of which are cattle dogs also known as blue heelers, have been under the care of volunteers and staff at the local shelter.
Some help has been provided. A week ago members of the television show Pit Bulls and Parolees came to the shelter to help home a bonded pit bull and poodle.
Wheaton said Pet Smart Charities recently sent $2,200 worth of sturdy dog toys for the many animals. That organization is also looking into the possibility of donating money to help finance the dogs’ medical care, Wheaton said.
In addition to the many volunteers who have helped walk the dogs and clean their cages, a trustee has been helping care for the dogs, Wheaton said.
While the court said the shelter has to turn over nine dogs to Hackney and her husband, Wheaton’s concern for how they were treated last time led her to make use of a state statute that allows her 10 days to comply while they look for a legal means to keep the dogs.
When the dogs were seized they were found to be living in less than ideal conditions. Most were standing in their own waste, and many were being kept in a hot shed with no ventilation, no water and no food in sight, according to previous coverage of the case.
According to court records, the six dogs and three puppies granted back to Hackney are to be returned to “the defendants, Lynne Hackney and Miles Allen, for reason that such animals are personal pets of the defendants and may be further utilized by the defendant, Lynne Duhe Hackney, in assistance of her existing medical condition.”
Picayune Police Department Assistant Police Chief Jeremy Magri said the dogs awarded back to Hackney and Allen were those relinquished to the shelter by family members while the couple was in jail.
Wheaton said they are happy the court granted custody of most of the dogs to the shelter.
“We are pretty excited,” Wheaton said. “It’s a bit of a bummer that we weren’t getting all of them.”
Two Shetland Sheep dogs that were seized have been sent to a dog rescue in Louisiana, who is now looking for monetary donations to help with medical expenses, Wheaton said. Anyone interested in providing assistance can contact the local shelter to get more information.
As for the other dogs, Wheaton said Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Inc. is providing assistance to find suitable foster homes until permanent ones can be found. A list of interested foster homes is being examined.
Wheaton said she has already fielded questions as to how many dogs the shelter has had to euthanize as a result of the population boom.
“It’s real cool to be able to say none,” Wheaton said.
In the time they have been at the shelter Wheaton said the dogs have displayed a better demeanor. Many have begun to wag their tails and have a brighter appearance, said Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Inc. volunteer Gina Rourke. Rouke came to Picayune to help with the influx of dogs.
Lt. Joe Quave with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department said the couple still faces two counts each of simple animal cruelty. He said they are required to go before the court on Nov. 5 where they will have the option to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Quave said if they plea not guilty then the court will set a trial date.
“I’m pleased the seized dogs won’t be going back to her,” Quave said.
Rourke said she is blown away by the dedication of the local shelter’s staff and volunteers.
Wheaton would also like to commend her staff, volunteers and the local law enforcement agencies for their work in the case.

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