Crime

‘She’s a hoarder,’ sheriff says of woman whose 55 animals were seized

Horses, goats, ducks, turkeys and other animals were taken to the Hancock County Animal Shelter after they were seized July 12 from a Kiln woman's property.
Horses, goats, ducks, turkeys and other animals were taken to the Hancock County Animal Shelter after they were seized July 12 from a Kiln woman's property. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

Horses, goats and a pony, among 55 animals seized from a Kiln woman’s property, now roam in a pasture at the Hancock County Animal Shelter.

Turkeys, chickens and ducks are now in dog kennels, as well as some dogs. Rabbits are in cages inside the shelter.

Two of the horses “are in pretty bad shape,” Sheriff Ricky Adam said.

Bonnie Heffron, 64, of Dogpatch Road, will appear in court this week to hear if she will be able to get some or all of her animals back.

The animals were seized July 12 after the county’s animal control officer went to the property in response to a complaint of two emaciated horses.

“She loves her animals, but she’s a hoarder,” Adam said. “Horses are just different machines. They require a lot of care and it takes money to care for them.”

Adam said Heffron lives in the woods and works at the county’s South Barn.

The response was for the two horses until the officer saw the large number of animals.

“The dogs had food and water, but the vet decided they should be taken, too,” Adam said.

Deputies arrested Heffron on charges of animal cruelty and neglect. The charges are misdemeanors.

She is free on bonds that total $2,000.

The seizure doubled the number of animals at the shelter, which housed about 25 dogs and 20 cats before the entourage of farm animals, wildlife and fowl arrived.

“We’re making do,” Shelter Director Toni Pickering said.

Dixieland Home, Farm and Garden offered to come up with donations to help pay for animal food and volunteers are helping care for the animals.

“But we can always use more volunteers,” Pickering said.

What others say

Rene Cuevas, Heffron’s neighbor for eight years, said she has seen disturbing sights involving the animals, including dead horses several years ago.

Cuevas said the pony that deputies seized had been housed in a 4-foot by 5-foot cage.

“I don’t know how it survived,” she said.

“The other horse they took was in a pasture, but I wouldn’t call it a pasture. A pasture has grass. That area does not.”

Cuevas said she is relieved to see the animals in good care now and she doesn’t want the animals to be returned to Heffron.

“I don’t know this woman,” she said. “She may be the nicest woman in the world. But if she can’t afford to take care of her animals, she shouldn’t have them. I truly believe she’s a hoarder. Maybe now she will get the help she needs.”

Melanie Dunaway, a Woolmarket resident who works with rescue groups, said Mississippi’s laws are not tough enough to motivate animal owners to be responsible.

“I’m sick and tired of seeing our state on the news for things like this,” Dunaway said.

“The laws aren’t stiff enough and too many people are getting their animals back after the general public has paid to take care of them,” Dunaway said.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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