Steve Rogers

About Steve Rogers

Assistant News Director/Assignment Editor; degree in finance and administration from Yale University; 35 years experience in journalism.

Animal Cruelty Cases Draw Attention

In Defense of Animals (IDA), the international animal protection organization that operates Hope Animal Sanctuary (HAS) in Grenada, Mississippi, worked with the Tallahatchie County Sheriff’s Office over the weekend on a horse cruelty case and sees justice served in Yalobusha animal cruelty case with sentencing hearing.

On October 4, 2013 HAS received a call for assistance from the Tallahatchie County Sheriff’s Department with the seizure of animals found to be abandoned and roaming in the roadway. The family living at the property had been evicted and left with the horses they were able to transport in a borrowed trailer. The animals left behind, two horses, a donkey, and four dogs, were not left with provisions for their care, nor was care arranged for them and all were seized by HAS.

Among the seized animals was a horse belonging to a neighbor. The horse, a mare, had made her way onto the property when the donkey broke the fence separating the properties. The mare was emaciated and had clearly been the subject of chronic food deprivation.

IDA’s large animal veterinarian, Dr. Thomas Abernethy from Veterinary Associates in Grenada, determined the mare, who appeared to be under a year’s age, was actually closer to seven or eight years of age. He also confirmed a report given to HAS that the guardians who abandoned the animals had lost horses to Botulism, the result of providing rotting hay.

Tallahatchie County Justice Court Judge Steve Ross set bond for a custody hearing for the animals who inhabited the Sanders Road property at $2,000 and for the mare who accompanied them at $500.

HAS Director Doll Stanley said, “We were surprised to learn the horse who was in the most pitiful condition belonged to the neighbor. We couldn’t have been more delighted that she fit the terms of the seizure order and we didn’t have to postpone her rescue.”

The economic slump that has affected many families is not an excuse for the neglect or abandonment of the animals who depend on their guardians for life sustaining care and provisions. HAS’s team has participated in numerous abandonment cases and recognizes the difference between caring guardians who reach out for help when they can no longer provide for their animals and people who have chosen a lifestyle which fosters the neglect of all their responsibilities, care for their children and animals, and leaving a path of unpaid bills in their wake. A guardian is a culpable for the suffering caused by neglect as the guardian who inflicts pain by blows or torture.

On September 17, 2013, Christina Montgomery and Rodney Hanks of Coffeeville failed to appear in Yalobusha County Justice Court, each on a count of failure to provide their turtles with food and water and one count of cruelty for the suffering and deaths of dogs, cats, and turtles, that the pair locked in their residence as they fled from an investigation by the Department of Human Services into the neglect of Montgomery’s children. Eight animals perished including six cats and two turtles. HAS cared for and placed the three animals who survived after nearly a month locked in the residence. The pair were provided a public defender and convicted in absentia.

On October 5, 2013 the pair was apprehended by their bondsman and sentencing was set for Tuesday, October 8, 2013. Presiding Justice Court Judge Gary Tippet sentenced Rodney Hanks and Christina Montgomery each to fines of $1082.50 for the combined charges, $476.50 in court costs, and jail time of 50 days for the lesser count, 180 days for the greater, to be served consecutively. If the pair seeks an appeal the bond will be set at $2,600 each for court and personal bond.

HAS Director Doll Stanley said, “We were elated with Judge Tippet’s rulings in the conviction and sentencing of Hanks and Montgomery. Their crimes were outrageous. One can only begin to imagine the suffering of the helpless animals they so callously abandoned. The judge understood that animal suffering is senseless and inexcusable.”