James gets a new start on life as Gladys

By PAT BROWN,

At the time of this writing we don’t know the ending of this story, but we have to be hopeful.

Last Monday my wife Nancy was reading on Facebook about a couple of Great Danes that had been neglected and abused.  We’re not sure how that all turned out, but this is where the story started.

For you tec savvy folks, the string on the Great Dane story led to a post from a young man about what he had seen in Simpson County back in December.

He posted the picture of what was reported to be an 18-year-old dog that was dying in a pen.  The conditions were absolutely horrible, and that is an understatement.  

Nancy, an animal lover, was furious that a dog would be in that kind of condition in Simpson County.  The bad news was that the situation had not changed any from that time to now.

 We contacted Zach Hawes, who had taken the picture, and he told us the dog’s location in the county.  The animal was caged in a 10x10 pen so full of trash you could not see the ground. 

Nancy’s first instinct was to go get that dog.  I told her it would not be that easy, that you can’t just go on someone’s property and take their animals.  I told her we had to go through the law.

She agreed and we called the Sheriff’s Department.  Two deputies went to the location and spoke with the owner, Milton Craig.  According to the sheriff, the deputies told the man he had two days to clean up the pen and improve the living situation for “James,” the dog. 

Craig said the dog was sick and would not eat,  According to the sheriff the dog was 18-19 years old and was not able to eat.

Meanwhile we got more information from Hawes about what had happened. He said he lived in Florence and had called the police department there about the situation but “nothing happened.” 

He is a plumber and was working in the area when he discovered James’s situation.  I spoke to him about the situation and decided it couldn’t go on.  It was reported that Craig would throw the food he did not want over the fence to James. 

I told Nancy that if she was committed to saving this animal she was going to have to be aggressive and file charges through Justice Court.  This set her back. I said, “You  must make a statement and stand your ground.”  I asked her if she wanted to do this.  She said she just wanted to make sure the dog was okay so she  reluctantly agreed to do whatever was necessary.  I told her I would go with her to file the proper paper work. 

We went to Justice Court and filed papers.  Judge Charles Savell had left for the day, but we called and explained our plight and he agreed to come back to sign a warrant.  We did not want the man arrested.  Our goal was just to take possession of the animal so we could get it proper treatment. 

Then we went to see County Prosecutor Wesley Broadhead and told him what was going on. He agreed to prosecute if there were grounds.  I told him we wanted a removal order from the judge and he said he was happy to help.

When I got back to Justice Court, the sheriff suggested that the best thing that could happen would be for Mr. Craig to agree to surrender the dog to me.  I told the sheriff I was fine with that. 

These cases are difficult because the county has no laws on the books  regarding care of animals, but the state does.  Part of the Mississippi Code 97-41-16 specifically addresses the care of dogs and cats.  Mistreatment can be charged either as a felony or a misdemeanor.  The Rankin County animal control officer suggested that the misdemeanor charge would be easier to prove so that’s what we filed.

To compound the matter Simpson County has absolutely no law or provision that addresses care of animals or problems with animals, despite the fact that children have been mauled by pit bulls in Simpson County.   Another problem is the fact that no county funds are designated to care for animals so the county is reluctant to address the issue. 

Mind you, the animal lovers are watching this story unfold on Facebook and it is spreading like wild fire.  This is where Rescue Revolution comes in. 

This animal rescue group said if we could take possession of the dog they would take it and provide proper care for it.  But they insisted that it had to be done immediately because their experience had been that if it was not handled quickly the animal would be killed so that the owner would not face charges. 

Meanwhile, I got a phone call from the sheriff, who told me that Judge Savell had contact with Mr. Craig and he had agreed to turn the dog over.  I assumed that was to avoid charges. 

So off I went to the Old Pearl community.  I found Mr. Craig, a very nice older man.  He told me that his daughter had brought the dog to him and left it.

I asked him if I could take the dog and he agreed.   I had pulled in beside the pen but did not realize it because it was so overgrown with privet hedge. 

We made our way through the bushes and I went to open the gate but  could not because all the bushes had grown up and the gate would not open.  By this time Mr. Craig’s grandson was with us and I thought, this is just terrible.

I was able to coax James to the fence and leaned over and picked him up.  He was slightly more than skin and bones. 

I told the grandson he could pet James goodbye.  I got in my truck and off we went. 

I sent a text message with a photo of James sitting on my front seat to the young man who had discovered his plight.  The ladies from Rescue Revolution and I had predetermined that we would meet at Jerry’s Fish House in Florence where they would take possession. 

They showed up about 6:00 and I met Kelly Collins, who had been advising me on the phone. 

 Kelly told me that the first order of business was to get James, who we had discovered by this time was a girl, to the vet to make a health determination.  We had originally thought that the dog would have to be put to sleep and I had agreed to pay for it. 

However, Kelly said her organization does not euthanize animals.  So they looked at the pup and determined her to be about 6 years old according to the teeth.  It was also determined, though, that she had many broken teeth from eating rocks because she had no other food

After giving “her” a new name--get this-- Gladys Knight--they took her to the vet.  The ladies thought that Glady would most likely be put on a drip to help her start on the road to recovery.  Not that easy. 

The vet said that Gladys would not have made it another day had we not intervened.  She had to be taken to the pet emergency room to save her life.  She made it through the night, though, and we got the message that she was still alive.  Later in the day we got the message, “She had a solid poop.” As crude as that may sound,  it was a good sign. 

There’s more to the story.  Zach Hawes, who originally reported Gladys’s plight, has expressed to Rescue Revolution his desire to provide a home for Gladys.  Earlier in life Zach had been a vet tech, which explains his concern for this poor creature and the squalor she was existing in.  He said he first tried to report this anonymously for fear he would get in trouble with his employer.  But when his employers found out what had happened they encouraged him to help. 

So what did we hope to accomplish with this story?  The goal was to bring attention to the very real problem that exists for animals in Simpson County and for us to realize that something must be done because we are all God’s creatures and we have an obligation to care for those that may not be able to care for themselves.

 I told Nancy it did not matter in the big picture whether Gladys survived, though we hope she does. What mattered was her story and those of so many others like her.

Good luck, Gladys.

Editor’s Note:  Gladys needs more vet care to take care of her serious health problems.  If you want to donate to help Gladys, make monetary donations through the Facebook Donate button on the Rescue Revolution post.  You can also donate via Paypal on the website www.rrofms.org/donate or email rrofms@gmail.com.  You can mail a check to  Rescue Revolution of Mississippi, P. O. Box 13616, Jackson, MS 39236, or donate through Venmo at www.venmo.com/trofms or @rrofmsu.