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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
540-483-5113
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Abandoned dogs looking for homes
Owner indicted on 18 counts of cruelty
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Nine dogs were recently seized by Franklin County Animal Control Officers from a trailer near the Doe Run section of the county. The dogs have been treated and are available for adoption at the Franklin County Humane Society.

Friday, May 23, 2014

By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer

The Franklin County Animal Shelter and Franklin County Humane Society are searching for homes for nine dogs recently found abandoned in a trailer near the Doe Run section of the county.

Melissa Lynne Jarels was recently indicted on 18 animal cruelty counts involving the dogs, including nine counts of failing to provide a companion animal, for which she was the owner, with adequate care, feed, water or properly cleaned shelter and nine counts of allegedly ill-treating, abandoning and depriving a canine of necessary food, drink, shelter or emergency treatment.

The alleged offenses occurred on April 23, according to the indictments, when Franklin County Animal Control Officers received complaints from an anonymous person concerned for the animals' welfare.

Officer Ben Lamm secured a warrant to seize the nine dogs.

The trailer was found to have no electricity and no ventilation, as all the windows were shut, according to Cindy Brooks, adoption specialist with the Franklin County Animal Shelter.

"When we walked in, the smell of urine and feces burned our eyes," Brooks said.

The dogs were all severely dehydrated and malnourished, Brooks said.

"They suffered with mange and flea infestations so severe that the hair was missing on a lot of the dogs," she said. "Their noses were crusted over from horrible respiratory infections, and seven of them had conjunctivitis in their eyes. They were all anemic and suffered terrible worm infestations. There were also dogs with nails so long, they were starting to curve back and become embedded in their paws."

The dogs are believed to have been left alone in the trailer without food or water for at least two weeks.

"There were empty food and water bowls throughout the house as if the owner knew she would be gone for a while," said Brooks.

Once seized, the animals were taken to Franklin Animal Hospital, where they received needed treatment.

"They are all doing extremely well at this point," said Brooks. "They received blood work, antibiotics for any infections, nail clippings and baths. Their mange is cleared up and they are starting to grow new hair."

Currently, all nine dogs are available for adoption at the Franklin County Humane Society.

The county is also raising funds to pay for the nearly $4,000 vet bill. An animal neglect medical fund has been set up at www.gofundme.com/9543f0 for those wanting to donate to the cause.

"Our goal is $5,000 and the shelter and humane society are splitting the funds," said Brooks.

Monetary donations can also be mailed to 1488 Franklin Street, Rocky Mount, VA 24151.

The donated money will not only care for the nine rescued dogs, but for all the other medical cases at the shelter and humane society.

"Our shelter is completely full right now," said Brooks. "Up to this point, rescue groups have stepped up to the plate so that we haven't had to euthanize any animals due to space constraints. But now, the rescue groups are full as well, and I'm scared. I know of nearly 60 stray cats that are expected to be delivered to us soon from a local trailer park and we are simply out of room."

Brooks said the shelter and other rescue groups are here to help those who can't take care of their animals.

"We're here to help," said Brooks. "If there is a problem with taking care of your animals, just call us. There is no need to let it get so far out of hand that it turns into cruelty and neglect. This has become a serious situation here and we are, and will remain, on top of it. Neglect will no longer be tolerated in this county."

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. It is a determination by jurors that enough evidence exists to warrant a trial.

 
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