JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Authorities are investigating what's being called a "large-scale animal cruelty situation" in Jones County. Maj. Jamie Tedford, with the Jones County Sheriff's Department, said charges are now pending against two suspects in the investigation. Tedford said those suspects are in custody.
The Humane Society of the United States said more than 65 dogs and 30 cats have been seized from the property on Lyon Ranch Road so far. The property stretches through 161 acres of land.
HSUS said the animals found there were living in horrendous conditions and appear to be suffering from lack of veterinary care.
"Right now, we're looking at just some horrific images," said Allyson Knotts, spokeswoman for the Jones County Sheriff's Department.
We know that officials with the sheriff's department, HSUS, Southern Cross Animal Rescue and Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks have been at the scene since 7 a.m. Wednesday.
"We're just in the very beginning of an extensive investigation," said Knotts.
Knotts said an anonymous tip got the ball rolling on the investigation, and the work to set up an operation to seize the animals has been going on for weeks.
"To those that gave that anonymous tip, that went to Southern Cross Animal Rescue, thank you, because that's how things like this are accomplished and that we are able to fix things," said Knotts.
According to Knotts, volunteers from across the country are now in Jones County to rescue the animals from these "dire conditions."
"All animals should have access to adequate veterinary care and none should be forced to live in conditions like we have seen today," said Sára Varsa, vice president of the HSUS Animal Rescue Team in a news release. "We are thankful to the Southern Cross Animal Rescue and other organizations that have answered the call to help these animals."
HSUS said it's taking the animals to a temporary emergency shelter where they will be inspected by a veterinarian and treated for any medical issues.
"The Jones County Sheriff's Department works to give the citizens of Jones County a safe place to live, and that is not limited to the people. Our pets are our family and deserve a healthy atmosphere. Situations like these, though this particular incident seems quite massive, are more than unfortunate, they are unfair and unnecessary," said Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge.
Hodge said his department has received several reports of missing pets from people living in the area and detectives are investigating those claims for any connection to this property.
If you need to report a missing pet, Hodge said to be prepared with a detailed description of the animal, whether it's microchipped, any photos and the name of your veterinarian.