Unusual Case Goes to Court

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The case involved Dinah Dawkins of Lauderdale, Miss. This past February, the mother of five small children was arrested on charges of animal cruelty for the deaths of at least four puppies.

Dawkins says the puppies died while she was transporting them to the Lauderdale County Animal Control Office in Meridian.

The puppies were all transported in a plastic tool carrying case. Dawkins said the lid was open after she put the puppies in, but at some point during transport the lid closed and apparently suffocated the animals.

Prior to taking the puppies to the center, Dawkins' mother-in-law who lives next door said she had asked animal control officials to pick up the puppies. However, she said she was told that they could not legally do so and she should get them there the best way she could.

"I brought them the only way I could, and unfortunately some of them died," Dawkins said tearfully after her conviction.

On the day in question, Dawkins says she had to wait outside the building for about twenty minutes for workers to return from lunch. Because of this, her husband says center officials are at least partly responsible for the deaths.

"There's eight people there. They're supposed to rotate off lunch, but they were all gone to lunch at the same time and I just can't see that," said Dinah's husband, Steve Dawkins.

Meanwhile, found guilty in justice court on the charges, Dawkins was ordered to pay $75 in penalties and court fees but was told that she would be reimbursed for the money she paid to bond out of jail, something which she calls only fair.

"And this has taken a real toll on my family because I've been charged for bond of $251 that my kids could've used and I was fingerprinted. I got a mug shot, all this. I just don't think it's right at all," Dawkins said.

"It was extremely fair," said Dewayne Sosebee of Lauderdale County Animal Control. "There's no such thing as extreme when it comes to not taking care of your animals, especially when you cause the death of one."