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For the Love of the Dog

Arson at the Animal Shelter

Animal ShelterOne of the most unconscionable acts is to deliberately set fire to an animal shelter.  On December 20, around 4 PM, fire was discovered at the Southern Pines Animal Shelter of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The fire was contained quickly but not before the adoption office and two others were completely gutted.  Four cats perished in the fire.  An investigation confirmed that the fire was a result of arson.

Robert Misseri, one of the founding members of Rescue Ink, contacted me directly and asked if I could spread the word about the fire at the Southern Pines Animal Shelter.  They are trying to rebuild the one building and they need help and donations from the public.

I don’t care what kind of animal died there.  Dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, or bearded dragons; deliberately setting fire to an animal shelter is beyond atrocious.  Even the Dog Community is growling over this.  Animal Shelters across the country are overburdened.  They have owner surrenders, abandoned animals, cruelty seizures, puppies and kittens from unspayed females – it never stops.  Not these days.  The last thing a shelter needs is a fire.  This was a blow to the shelter employees a few days before Christmas.

A bigger blow to the shelter was the arrest of the arsonist.  One of their own employees! Ricky Pierce is charged with arson and commercial burglary. The burglary charge stems from the theft of a computer hard drive from one of the kennel buildings.   Pierce worked for the shelter for about six months and was well-liked, but the staff stated he was angry at a recent change in his position.  Pierce started in an office position doing adoptions and other paperwork and greeting clients. About two weeks before the fire, Pierce was moved to the kennels.

The four cats kept in the office were office pets and were disabled. Three were lame and the other was blind.  A shelter employee would know that disabled animals would have no chance of trying to hide or save themselves.   That in itself is monstrous and horrifying.  Just think of the devastation and lost lives if this fire spread to the kennels where the rest of the animals were located.  The staff is heartbroken over the loss of their pets.

Ricky Pierce was charged with commercial burglary and arson on December 23. He has appeared in court and his bond was set at $50,000 for the commercial burglary charge and $100,000 for the arson charge.  Animal cruelty charges were also filed.  It is not known if he has posted bail or if he has an attorney.

The judge informed Pierce that a condition of his bail was he cannot have any contact at all with anyone from the animal shelter. If he makes contact, bond will be revoked.

Although I am not sure, the rest of the facility has probably suffered smoke damage from the fire.  All their animals, dogs and cats, might need to be moved to temporary quarters while the shelter cleans up after the fire.  Extra supplies are most likely needed (such as temporary dog houses, towels, cages, etc.).   Should we get more information, an update will be posted.

For those in the area, the shelter has set up the “Southern Pines Animal Shelter Building Project” fund at The First Bank in Hattiesburg.  You may drop off donations at any branch.

Visit their website and you can leave a donation via the PayPal button on the home page.

You can also mail donations to the Shelter at P.O. Box 2021, Hattiesburg, MS, 39403.

This is the ultimate betrayal by this shelter employee, Ricky Pierce.  If he doesn’t like shoveling *excrement* in a shelter kennel (which goes with the job), he can try cleaning up after Cerberus.  The three headed dog that guards the gates of hell.

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