Animal rights activist calling for audit of animal rescue nonprofits

On Friday, Pass Christian police arrested 56-year-old Ethel and Richard Ross in connection with 70 counts of animal cruelty each – and their bonds were set at $3,500.

The department had received an anonymous tip about a foul odor emanating from the residence.

It was the second time in two weeks that hoarded animals were taken from a Harrison County property.

Jessica Collins was arrested March 2 after more than 30 dead dogs were found on her property in Saucier. Several of those bodies had been burned, and only one living dog was taken off the property, which was reportedly an operation called Deep South Animal Rescue.

So where does the buck stop with these cases?

Connie Call, an animal activist who tipped police about Collins, is sending a proposal up the pipeline to state legislators – with the hopes of enacting change.

“Honestly, there hasn’t been a lot of inspection in these places, especially the ones in these mom-and-pop areas, like in Saucier, where nobody goes out there, and other small areas,” Call said. “These places are not being investigated, and then we’re finding out there are horrible acts of neglect going on, because nobody is investigating the situation.”

An audit for would-be rescue services can ensure animals are being properly cared for – not unlike health inspections required of restaurants. Call’s proposal would limit kennel times and give minimum space requirements for doggy daycares, and it would require proper vet care after intake at shelters.

States like Texas and Wyoming already have a similar audit system in place.

“Our dogs and cats are there because they’re easy to please and they’re eager to please, and they’re there to welcome us when we get home from work. And there’s no reason to allow them to sit in their own feces, to allow them to starve, to allow them to be covered in fleas and ticks because nobody’s doing an audit process,” Call said.

Call said she would spearhead these audits by doing them herself in the state’s 20 southernmost counties – but for now, the document must first catch the attention of Mississippi lawmakers.

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