Ellisville, Miss. – A married couple charged with aggravated animal cruelty left Jones County’s Justice Court, Monday without paying a dime and facing only one misdemeanor charge. According the Jones County Sheriff, Alex Hodge this is the maximum penalty the department can give due to the state laws.
“This is only a misdemeanor,” Hodge said. “That is all the law in the state of Mississippi allows.”
David and Mary Ellen Senne face one misdemeanor charge for aggravated animal cruelty in a case that involves 106 animals (89 animals rescued and 17 animals deceased). Sheriff Hodge advocates for stronger animal cruelty laws in the state.
“You could detect from my emotions on that day,” Hodge said. “When I made an emotional statement saying we would intend on looking at felony charges, but again the laws don’t allow that currently.”
Law written into place underneath Mississippi Code 97-14-16, which states in section 2(b),
“If a person who is convicted of a first offense of aggravated cruelty to a dog or cat shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not more than Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($2,500.00), or imprisoned for not more than six (6) months, or both.”
During the couple’s perp walk, Mary Ellen stated the couple planned to build a shelter, but recent conflicts with Southern Cross Animal Rescue (SCAR) prevented them from doing so.
“The SCAR lady just came out three weeks ago, and said please don’t build that shelter,” Mary Ellen said. “We’ll lose our revenue stream.”
SCAR president, Heather Chandler denies Mary Ellen’s accusations.
“I have no idea about building a facility in Ellisville but I know a lot of the Ellisville city leaders very well, and prior to this they have never heard her name,” Chandler said.
David and Mary Ellen Senne will appear in court again Aug. 9 at 9 a.m. If they fail to appear in court or do not meet the terms of their release, they will be forced to pay a $2,500 fine.