This is a developing story

Add this story to your list of “why local elections are important.” 

In Franklin County, animal rights activists are angry at the treatment of two folks who seemingly trespassed onto a condemned property to save four puppies. The puppies’ mother, apparently with a broken back, had been dragged out of the house and away from the puppies into a nearby field. 

We want to say up front there’s still a lot of confusion over precisely what happened, the health of the puppies, and the injury that broke the mother dog’s back. But we’re uncomfortable with the details we do have. 

A few days ago, Mary Scott-McKinney and Connie McMillen received a call from a concerned neighbor that a property owner was demolishing a house with the puppies still inside. The property owner alleged he had already removed the mother dog from the premises. It’s confirmed that the mama dog doesn’t seem to be able to use her hind legs; the Artemis Project, a nonprofit animal rescue in the River Valley area, claims that the dog was harmed during the demolition; the property owner, however, claims the dog was hit by a car. The dog was found in a nearby field while the puppies were still under the house. 

Scott-McKinney and McMillen admit they trespassed in order to try and remove the puppies when the property owner called authorities. Deputies showed up and arrested the pair, but here’s where it gets a little shady. 

For the misdemeanor of trespassing, Scott-McKinney and McMillen were both held without bond. But McMillen is 73 years old, and both individuals were apparently refused access to necessary medication. That is deeply shady. The pair  have now been released after locals made a fuss and showed up to the detention center to protest. 

The property owner, who hasn’t yet made a statement to the public, claims that he was caring for the puppies and had moved the mother, provided her with food, and had intended to get the puppies to safety before continuing with the demo. The Artemis Project folks say, however, that the mother was simply dumped, and the puppies had been there too long without her. 

As of Thursday evening, it appears the mother and two of her puppies have been turned over to the Artemis Project for care. The status of the other puppies is unknown.  

But if the Artemis Project is correct about how the deputies handled this issue, this is deeply concerning on multiple levels. It would mean a 73-year-old woman was thrown in jail without her medication and that someone accused of animal cruelty is currently walking free. 

According to former gubernatorial candidate Chris Jones, Rep. Jay Richardson and Sen. Gary Stubblefield are trying to get clear details on what happened; we look forward to hearing from them. 

Until we do, however, there’s a lot to be concerned about here.