Animals Seized in Preston

Officials in Kemper County updated the number of animals being seized from Raven's Hope Animal Sanctuary in Preston, Miss., to more than 160 late Tuesday.

Many of the animals appeared malnourished. Feces, discarded boxes and garbage were found piled on floors and furniture inside the house on Highway 495 where the owner, Virginia Robinson, also lived.

More than two dozen people from the Humane Society of the United States conducted the seizure in cooperation with the Kemper County Sheriff's Department.

Officials with the Kemper County Sheriff's Department, the Mississippi Animal Rescue League, and Humane Society of the United States conducted the seizure of mostly dogs and a few cats.

An estimated 100 animals were seized. County officials and others with the Mississippi Rescue League say this is one of the worst cases of animal neglect they've ever seen.

"She has about 3.5 acres here, and all around, inside the house, behind the house, down this side of the house, some of the animals are all up in the woods," said Sheriff James Moore.

"She considered it a non-profit rescue," said Deborah Boswell, executive director of the MARL. "And I'm sure that the donors would be absolutely appalled that they were sending money to support a situation where so many animals are suffering and have such inadequate care."

Because of the high cost of the seizure, county and state officials say they called on the Humane Society of the United States to help in this endeavor. More than two dozen volunteers and workers took part in the seizure process.

For the time being, the animals are being kept at an undisclosed area.

During this time the owner, Virginia Robinson, may petition for a hearing to determine whether or not she can retrieve the animals.

Robinson was charged Tuesday with disorderly conduct. But officials say animal cruelty charges could also be filed soon. Animal cruelty is a misdemeanor in Mississippi.

For several years, Raven's Hope has been one of two agencies that organize pet adoptions at Petco in Meridian on Saturdays. The East Mississippi Animal Rescue League is the other.

Tuesday, Petco officials said the store has severed all ties with the organization, and called the situation quote "terrible".

Store employees say they had never seen any problems with the animals that were brought to the store for adoption.

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