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OUR VIEW: Shelter animals should never live in poor conditions

The latest allegations made against Oxford animal shelter Mississippi Critterz are shocking and, frankly, unacceptable – almost as unacceptable as the statement released by the shelter in response.  

Images of helpless animals with a variety of health conditions ranging from upper respiratory infections to missing or infected eyes and limbs; corpses of animals stacked and stored in freezers or worse, in kennels with other living animals; filth and disease.  

Former paid employees of the shelter coming forward with time-stamped images dating back to February 2020 have said publicly that this was an ongoing issue, that they often attempted to get these animals medical attention and that those efforts were thwarted.  

Taxpayers and independent donors do not know how their dollars are being spent at MS Critterz; while their monthly minutes and agendas are readily visible on their website, the treasurer’s reports never mention a dollar amount. Instead, they maintain the shelter is in “good standing” before moving on to the next item. 

Mississippi Critterz released a statement after news broke that the shelter conditions were being investigated by Oxford Police Department and the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department.  

Their rationale was that the images “do not reflect the current conditions of the animal shelter.” The statement also said the shelter board of directors was only made aware of the photographs on Nov. 21, 2020. That’s 10 months since the first photos were taken, which begs a few questions: Did board members not set foot inside the shelter from the time the images were taken until November? Were board members aware of the conditions prior to this, and did they choose to ignore them anyway? Why was nothing done before November? 

The statement also claimed that an internal investigation was conducted and two Tupelo vets were called in to consult, and that some of the photos and claims were not valid – but provided no criteria for how validity was determined. The City of Oxford was also “fully aware” of the investigation, according to the statement, which also raises some concern.  

The LOU Community prides itself on quality municipal facilities: the shiny new County arena, the revamped Howell Activity Center, an array of parks and the brand-new county extension office. It’s clear, based on our tax rate, that the means is there for the City and County to adequately provide for Mississippi Critterz to oversee operations of the animal shelter. 

There are municipalities with much less that operate pristine animal shelters. There are homeless animals that deserve much better than what is depicted in the images that have recently surfaced. 

Animal shelters (especially no-kill shelters such as Mississippi Critterz) offer the promise of a second chance at life for homeless and neglected animals. They should not be subjected to further suffering. 

The images might not reflect current conditions, but it should have never been that bad in the first place.