ASPCA managing operations in Mississippi puppy mill investigation

Animal Agencies, including American Humane Association, Marshall County Humane Society, and Collierville Humane Society, Working Under Authority of Marshall County Prosecutor’s Office and Sheriff’s Department
February 4, 2010

NEW YORK – The ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), under the authority and request of Shirley C. Byers of the Marshall Co. Prosecutor's Office in Marshall County, Miss., is managing operations in the investigation of a local puppy mill where more than 75 dogs are being seized today.

The Marshall County Sheriff's Department, led by Sheriff Kenny Dickerson, served a warrant, along with Sgt. Kelly McMillan, Investigators Gary Byrd and David Pannell and Officer Tracy Jefferies.  Charges against the puppy mill's owners are currently pending, but the dogs have been signed over to the ASPCA.

Tim Rickey, the ASPCA's Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response, said the dogs, which include small breeds such as Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, Pugs, Yorkshire Terriers, Corgis, and Chihuahuas, were discovered living in feces-encrusted pens and filth.  He said many of the dogs are underweight and appear to have skin problems, among other medical conditions. Several dead adult dogs and puppies were also discovered.

Also on the scene with the ASPCA are the American Humane Association, Marshall County Humane Society, Mississippi State University and Collierville (Tenn.) Humane Society, who are removing and transporting animals to an emergency shelter site at the Marshall County Humane Society Clinic in Byhalia, Miss., where they will be triaged by a veterinary team and temporarily sheltered before being exported to other animal welfare agencies and ultimately made available for adoption.

"The ASPCA works in partnership with local groups to rescue animals like these from deplorable conditions," said Matt Bershadker, Senior Vice President of Anti-Cruelty for the ASPCA. "Without the support and collaboration of these agencies, this crucial, life-saving work would not be possible."

Veterinarians, including Dr. Rebecca Coleman of Memphis, Tenn., Dr. Phil Bushby, a faculty member at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Kimberly Woodruff, also with Mississippi State, are examining animals, and those requiring immediate medical care will be treated.

"We appreciate the diligence of the Marshall County Prosecutor's Office in pursuing this case and are pleased to be able to lend our assistance, both in terms of human resources and equipment, in our ongoing fight against animal cruelty," said Rickey.

The investigation was set into motion after local officials contacted the ASPCA several weeks ago.

"Puppy mills are substandard commercial breeding operations that house dogs in overcrowded and often unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization," said Rickey. "We want to see this cruelty come to an end."

For more information about puppy mills and how to fight animal cruelty, visit