Rescuers say an animal hoarding case at a home in Barbour County is one of the worst they’ve come across.
Anna Shepard with the Southern Souls Animal League says she received a tip about a woman hoarding dogs and keeping the animals in horrific conditions. She says that’s when she called the Barbour County Sheriff’s Office to take action.
“I said look, I’ve got at least 30 I know that’s going to be an animal cruelty case. They’re in really bad shape. They have mange. You can see they are skin and bones. Can you call some one out there?” says Shepard.
Shepard says law enforcement responded and called in the newly hired Barbour County Animal Control Officer.
“I get to the scene, and it’s bad. There are dogs everywhere. There’s trash. Some of these dogs are so emaciated they honestly look like a bag of bones,” says the now fired ACO, Jennifer Jernigan.
Jernigan says it was her first call as the ACO, and what she thought would be one dog, ended up being nearly 50 dogs living in the deplorable conditions.
“When we walked in there, the smell was horrible. There was feces everywhere, and one of the dogs that we pulled out of there, at first we didn’t know if it was a deformity or not, but our vet says it’s where the dog had chewed off its own foot,” says Shepard.
Jernigan says she was instructed to remove only one of the animals and keep it at the Barbour County Animal Shelter.
She says she assisted in the removal of the rest of the animals, who are all now under the care of Southern Souls, and after the seize, she says she was fired from her role.
“I mean, I responded, My job description is to investigate animal cruelty. My job description is to aide and assist local law enforcement to work with them in order to help get these animals out of that situation and that’s what I did and I lost my job,” says Jernigan.
Jernigan says once she was fired, she was ordered to return the one dog at the Barbour County Animal Shelter to the home where it was seized from.
The rest of the dogs, plus a chicken and a bird, are under the care of the nonprofit organization Southern Souls Animal League, and the shelter says it is filled beyond capacity.
Shepard says they are housing 90 animals, when the shelter is only equipped to handle 20-30 regularly, and all of the veterinary expenses as well as care expenses are coming out of the nonprofit’s pocket.
Shepard says they are in desperate need of help.
“Most of them are thin and scared. They don’t want you to touch them. Some of them are starting to come around, but we have three that are absolutely feral. That you’ll never be able to touch,” says Shepard of the animals.
Shepard says some veterinary care will be delayed, and others won’t be able to go up for adoption until the shelter is able to obtain custody of all of the dogs.
News 3 is waiting on a response from the Barbour County Commission as to why Jernigan was fired following the seize.