Advocates ask for stricter laws

Published 7:00 am Thursday, February 18, 2016

ANIMAL ADVOCATES: Brenda Nuremburg, secretary for Animal Advocates of Pearl River County, addresses the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors about animal cruelty laws.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

ANIMAL ADVOCATES: Brenda Nuremburg, secretary for Animal Advocates of Pearl River County, addresses the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors about animal cruelty laws.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

Wednesday, the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors meeting room in Poplarville was filled with members from the Animal Advocates of Pearl River County and the Pearl River County SPCA. Members addressed the Board of Supervisors, asking them to take action regarding animal cruelty laws.
About two years ago, a group of realtors met with the board to discuss the treatment of animals in this county, Animal Advocates of Pearl River County secretary Brenda Nirenberg said. At that time, they told the board there were home sales were lost when potential clients encountered instances of animal mistreatment.
“We are here to ask that laws are changed in Pearl River County to better protect dogs and cats,” Nirenberg said. “We are presenting a petition with a total of more than 800 signatures from citizens who share our concerns. Besides improving the lives of dogs and cats, changes in the laws will affect the quality of life for the citizens of Pearl River County, as well as, in the long term, boosting our economy. In the case of animal neglect and cruelty, it is not just that an animal is being mistreated, very often other illegal acts are occurring, including drug activity, child neglect and abuse.”
Animal Advocates President Lauren Fitts addressed the evidence linking serial killers and mass murderers with animal abuse.
In Dec. 2015, a Jones County man, with a history of shooting horses, killing dogs and strangling chickens, was accused of head-butting his 6-month-old baby to death, Fitts said.
Animal Advocates volunteer Lisa Cipriani said in the cases of drug abuse, dogs are often seen chained outside the home and trained to alert the inhabitants to people approaching the home. Another aspect of animal abuse is dog fighting.
Nuremberg also discussed the vague definition of neglect and shelter in the laws and that a stronger state law is needed.
“The current state animal cruelty law considers the abuse and or neglect of several animals concurrently as only one count of animal abuse,” Nirenberg said. “We realize that this law is a state law, not a county law, but would like to know if the county animal welfare law could not possibly be written to include that each act of animal cruelty or neglect is counted as one act. If that is not possible, we implore our elected county officials and law enforcement to communicate to our elected state lawmakers that animal cruelty is a serious public health and safety issue and that those who abuse animals are charged appropriately, one count per act of cruelty.”
Board of Supervisors President Sandy Kane Smith told the crowd that he has spent a lot of time thinking about the problem, which includes the hiring of a county animal control officer. The person who fills that position must be a certified law enforcement officer.
“We know there’s a problem in the county and the sheriff has spent a lot of time chasing after things,” Smith said. “The new board is on now and we’re going to try and move forward to try and find the right person for that position. That’s what it needs to be, the right person that knows the law, conduct with the public in the right manner and report back to the sheriff’s department.”
In another matter, county engineer Les Dungan proposed six bridge projects for this term, which will be paid for with funds from State Aid and the Local System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program.
The first three bridges Dungan mentioned will be replaced using state aid funding. The first bridge is located on Rock Ranch Road and was built in 1972, Dungan said. The timber pilings will be replaced with concrete ones. The second bridge replacement work will be conducted on Otis Jones Road and the third on Sones Chapel Road.
LSBP funds will be utilized to rehabilitate the remaining three bridges. The first is a large bridge located on Harry Sones Road, which is showing advanced decay, Dungan said. The bridge on Hickory Grove Road has been on the replacement list for quite a while, he said. The final bridge Dungan recommended replacing this term is located on Nellie Burks Road.
“This will not use all of our state money,” Dungan said.
“At the earlier meeting you approved a plan for resurfacing the state aid roads that needed resurfacing and now I’m proposing the bridges. We are going to reserve about 25 percent of the state funds for something that may come up during the term that’s unforeseen.”
The board approved all of the bridge replacement work orders.
Dungan gave the board an update on the Richardson-Ozona Road project. The contractor is 25 percent done with the project and 35 percent through his allotted time, he said. Dungan said he is going to meet with the contractor again on March 10, who assured the county engineer that he is attempting to get back on schedule.
The next board meeting will be March 7 at 9 a.m. inside the court building in Poplarville.

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