Help needed for animals seized from Pass refuge

Supplies, donations and volunteers are being sought to help care for more than 275 animals recently seized by authorities from a Pass Christian no-kill shelter.

A call went out to the public this week for help in caring for animals found at the South Mississippi Animal Rescue Team and Refuge in western Harrison County. Bay St. Louis resident Prima Luke, who has been volunteering with the animals this week, said more than 200 dogs and about 75 cats are involved.

The animals were moved from the refuge in Pass Christian to the Harrison County Farm, located on County Farm Road, after Jonean Crowle was charged on March 16 with 10 counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals. She is director of the Animal Rescue Team and Refuge.

Several other types of animals, including a pony, goats, and a rooster, were taken from the Rescue Team and Refuge headquarters. Luke said supplies needed in the rescue operation include towels, blankets, paper towels, and rubber gloves. Cash donations and help from volunteers are also being accepted.

Luke has been working at the temporary holding site at the County Farm since Sunday, walking dogs and performing other chores. Most of the dogs she has seen are in “pretty decent” condition, she said.

In Bay St. Louis, supplies and donations are being accepted at Maggie May’s, 126 Main St. in Old Town.

But Luke said volunteers also are needed at the County Farm, and should check in upon arrival. County prisoners are cleaning animal cages and filling food and water bowls, she said, and volunteers are taking the animals out for exercise.

“There are big dogs and little dogs,” she said. “If some one feels they can’t handle a big dog, there are plenty of smaller ones.”

According to its Web site, the South Mississippi Animal Rescue Team and Refuge was started years ago by John Billingsly, Crowle’s father. He began by taking in stray, abandoned or abused dogs, and never euthanized an animal.

Animals that were not adopted out to new homes stayed on with Billingsly for the remainder of their lives. His daughter and her family eventually carried on the activity and maintained a no-kill facility. But according to their Web site, the organization has fallen upon hard financial times.

It remained unclear yesterday what will be done with the animals, or how long they will remain at the County Farm. Officials at the Humane Society of South Mississippi could not be reached for comment.

Luke said she will keep going back to the County Farm as long as necessary. “I’ll be here until it’s done,” she said.

BY J.R. Welsh

The Sea Coast Echo

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