Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Last pit bull in animal case now healthy and awaits adoption



By BRIAN HAWKINS
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The last of eight pit bull terriers found emaciated and malnourished by Starkville animal control officers at a vacant house in the Clayton Village area in mid-June is awaiting adoption at the Starkville Animal Shelter.
The pit bull, who has been named Elma, was originally scheduled to go an animal rescue group in Louisiana, but could not be sent with the other dogs after complications arose with a skin condition that required additional treatment, said Anita Howard, Animal Shelter manager.
“Her treatments are complete, and ... she is beautiful. She is the sweetest, most loving dog I have met in a long time, and I have met a lot of dogs,” said Howard. “She does not meet a stranger and wants to say ‘Hi’ to everyone. She gets along well with other dogs and is curious about cats, but does not try to hurt them.”
The Animal Shelter staff is seeking a good home for Elma, Howard said.
“Elma is a great dog and would make a perfect addition to any family because she is very gentle and does not jump. She is not a barker, either. To me, she is the perfect dog,” Howard said.
Anyone interested in adopting Elma can call the Animal Shelter at 338-9093 for a consultation and home visit, Howard said.
The Animal Shelter, located on Industrial Park Road, is operated by the Oktibbeha County Humane Society under a contract with the City of Starkville.
Elma and the other pit bulls were discovered at an Oktibbeha County man’s former home at 1429 Boyd Road on June 18.
McKee and Hankins went to the home after receiving a call from a concerned citizen.
The dogs were all chained and had gone without food or water for several weeks, each weighing about half the weight that a healthy pit bull would weigh, the animal control officers said. A ninth dog was found dead on the premises.
The dogs were taken to the Starkville Animal Shelter and cared for by the Oktibbeha County Humane Society until they were healthy.
Homes for the dogs have been found locally and in Louisiana and Arkansas, said Hankins and McKee late last month
The man who owned the dogs, Wheeler Crawford, 44, was found guilty of three of the nine counts of animal cruelty in an Oktibbeha County Justice Coury hearing and was sentenced to serve 60 days in the Oktibbeha County Jail for each of the three charges, but the three terms will be served concurrently.
The man was also ordered to pay a combined total of $676.50 in fines and court costs.
Both Hankins and McKee expressed disappointment in the outcome of the case, primarily since the animal cruelty charges were not felony offenses since state law does not classify the offense as a felony.
The two have recently been made aware of an effort by the Mississippi Coalition Against Animal Cruelty in circulating a statewide petition to have the state Legislature pass a bill making animal cruelty a felony offense. The group is seeking to generate 240,000 signatures on the petition.
Mississippi is one of four states where animal cruelty is not a felony offense.
Copies of the petition are available for signing at the Animal Shelter on Industrial Park Road and at the Starkville Daily News offices on Lampkin Street. The petition may also be signed online by visiting the Web site at http://www.ms-fact.org.