NEWTON, Miss. — BISSELL Pet Foundation, a national animal welfare organization, in partnership with Animal Rescue Corps, a national nonprofit animal protection organization, responded to an urgent request from Newton County officials for assistance with more than 70 dogs of various breeds found living in deplorable conditions on two properties in Newton, Miss., approximately one hour east of Jackson. Also supporting the ground team on site were Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO), Humane Society of South Mississippi (HSSM), Southern Pines Animal Shelter (SPAS), Rescue Riders Network, and local animal rescuers. All animals were seized by the Newton County Sheriff’s Department, and Natalie Fancher Patten a self-described “rescuer,” and her husband William Patten were arrested and taken into custody on charges of animal cruelty, including felony animal cruelty.
The Newton County Sheriff’s Department made this discovery while responding to a complaint that representatives from a purported animal rescue organization and 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Second Paw Dog Rescue, had not been on the property to care for the animal residents there in days. The Sheriff’s Department contacted Animal Rescue Corps requesting urgent help upon discovering the severity of the conditions and the large number of animals. Animal Rescue Corps quickly reached out to the other organizations to create a coalition and was on-scene with the necessary equipment, supplies, transport vehicles, volunteers, and a state-licensed veterinarian soon after receiving the call.
“Our nation’s animal shelters face mounting pressure to increase live release rates amidst a surge in pet intake and slowed adoptions. Unfortunately, a growing number of ‘rescues’ are being created to meet the demand to support at-risk pets,” said Cathy Bissell, Founder of BISSELL Pet Foundation. “The state of these dogs and the horrific conditions they were living in are a clear example of a failed rescue. BISSELL Pet Foundation is proud to partner with Animal Rescue Corps to give these dogs a second chance at life.”
Responders found dozens of dogs chained outdoors to trees, trapped in outdoor cages and camping tents, and several more running loose around the nine-acre, trash-strewn property. The dogs had been without access to food, clean water, or necessary veterinary care. On a separate property, over 40 dogs were found running loose and inside a trailer. Over a dozen dead and decomposing carcasses were found in cages and scattered around the property. Two emaciated dogs had to be immediately euthanized due to untreated medical conditions that were too advanced to be treated.
“Not all victims of abuse are people, and we take animal cruelty very seriously in our community,” said, Sheriff Joedy Pennington. “We will fully enforce the laws of this state and bring those responsible to justice.”
Inside a trailer, among piles of garbage on urine-soaked and feces-covered floors, several dogs including litters of small puppies only a few weeks old were found suffering in unimaginable conditions. The dogs, visibly covered in ticks and fleas, emaciated, dehydrated, and exhibited various illnesses and untreated injuries. Many of the chained dogs appear to have serious dental damage, ground and missing teeth, presumably from chewing at their chains to free themselves.
Working under the Newton County Sheriff’s Department, BISSELL Pet Foundation and Animal Rescue Corps safely removed the dogs and will transport them to Animal Rescue Corps’ Rescue Center in Gallatin, Tenn., about 30 minutes outside Nashville. Dogs will receive medical, physical, and social care until they can be placed with partnering shelters and rescue groups. Each animal will receive full medical exams, vaccinations, and any necessary treatments by a team of volunteer veterinarians.
BISSELL Pet Foundation provided critical funding for this emergency operation, coordinated on-scene volunteer support from the BISSELL Pet Foundation Shelter Partner Network, and will manage placement alongside Animal Rescue Corps with trusted shelter and rescue partners. Animal Rescue Corps managed the safe extraction of every animal, assessment, documentation, care, and collection of evidence for any cruelty proceedings in this rescue, dubbed Operation Skin and Bones.
BISSELL Pet Foundation’s Animal Incident Management initiative was launched specifically to help animals and the people who care for them before, during and after disaster strikes, whether it is a mission such as this one, or a large-scale event, like a hurricane. Learn more and make a donation at bissellpetfoundation.org.