If you believe you know of horses or other equines who are being abused or neglected, please contact your local sheriff department if the horse is located in the county or police department if the horse is located in the city. Very few counties in Mississippi have animal control officers but most have a deputy appointed to handle animal abuse complaints. Many law enforcement agencies are understaffed and animal cruelty complaints can sometimes take a back seat to other crimes. If this seems to be the case in your situation please feel free to contact us.
The biggest problem facing animal cruelty in Mississippi is there are not enough rescue organizations or resources to help with every animal cruelty complaint. Law enforcement agencies are not set up to take in neglected and malnourished horses. They can issue a warning and at best, charge the owners with animal cruelty but the horses remain in their custody. The fines are rarely a deterrent and many times the animals are just removed from sight and continue to suffer. To ensure the safe placement of the horses, a rescue organization needs to be involved otherwise there is risk that the horses will end up in another bad situation or are sent to slaughter.
Nonprofit animal welfare agencies in Mississippi don't have the power to do seizures. They work through law enforcement officers under the guidelines of city, county and state law. While they can document, file against and remove any animal that is being subject to physical and/or mental abuse, our ability to do so is given to us by the courts on an individual case basis.
First they file civil charges under the direction of the court. That allows them to remove all the animals on the property immediately. Under Mississippi Law the owner can request a hearing in the court within 5 days to determine whether they are able to provide adequately for the horses. If asked, they will then help the law enforcement agency bring criminal charges against the previous owner.
There are very few equine rescue organizations in Mississippi. Those that we do have are inundated with complaints. Because of limited man power and resources, we are unable to help with all cases. We request that you take pictures of the horses in question but DO NOT get on the person’s property. Sometimes the horses are not bad enough to justify law enforcement being contacted but if you can document their situation, many times, their condition will worsen and that helps to prove neglect making it easier for the horses to be removed. Please DO NOT post the horses pictures or address on Facebook or on any other public forum. The owner deserves privacy until the matter can be assessed by law enforcement. Posting their pictures publicly can also put the animals at risk of someone with good intentions feeding them causing their death. DO NOT feed the horses. As hard as it is to walk away from a starving animal, feeding them improperly can kill them and it can hurt the case when brought before a judge.
The horse just doesn't want to eat. I think he's just old,"I just ran out of money,"I think the horse is sick,"I don't own the horse. It belongs to my son." There is never a valid excuse for abusing a horse. Never.
If the owner needs help, we will do everything we can to help. If the owner is having temporary financial problems we will help find resources for them until they can once again afford to care for their horses. Sometimes a case of starvation, for instance, is caused by a lack of knowledge about dental care. Admittedly, if a horse is losing weight, common sense says to pick up the phone and call a vet. We'll suggest that the owner do just that, set a time limit, and come back to see if they took the proper action. If it is a case of outright abuse and neglect, we will do everything we can to assist law enforcement to have the animal removed.