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Charity Rescues Animals from Oxford Shelter After Closure; Fosters Return to Empty Shelter

Photo of doghouse outside animal shelter in Oxford with name of ousted nonprofit Mississippi Critterz painted over by white paint
The Mississippi Critterz facility became the second animal shelter to close at the same location in Oxford in less than five years last week, with charity Animal Rescue Corps transporting the remaining animals to their Nashville, Tenn., facility on Tuesday. The Critterz name is now painted over on the doghouse outside the facility. Photo by Grace Marion

OXFORD, Miss.—The City of Oxford is in search of candidates for animal control officer and kennel attendant to work at the municipal-owned shelter, previously controlled by Mississippi Critterz, for the time being. 

Mississippi Free Press previously reported whistleblowers’ findings about conditions inside the Mississippi Critterz-run facility and about the shelter’s temporary closing amid deepening controversy.

At the Board of Alderman meeting on Tuesday night, Mayor Robyn Tannehill announced these new positions, along with the now-approved plan to hire Animal Shelter Services consultant Tim Crum. “They’ll advise us on every aspect from daily oversight to fundraising, public relations and budget policies and procedures, offside adoptions and even pet transport,” Tannehill said. 

Photo of Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill in front of the City of Oxford sign wearing glasses and a mask at a microphone
Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill explained that Tim Woodward with Animal Rescue Corps contacted her earlier in the week about transporting the animals that remained at the former Mississippi Critterz shelter. His organization removed the remaining 48 animals on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. Photo by Grace Marion

Crum will be able to begin his four-day assessment in three to four weeks. It will take him about 10 days to complete and return his report from that point, Tannehill told the Board of Aldermen. Crum’s city contract will be for $22,000. 

“The final product will be the development of standard operating procedures, including procedures and practices that are essential to our shelter, state and operations that are essential to establishing a good work environment and a reputation in the community,” Tannehill said. 

The mayor announced at Tuesday’s meeting that the Oxford Police Department will handle animal control until an animal control officer is hired. An application deadline for those wanting to serve as animal control officer or kennel attendant was not announced at the meeting. All animals animal control acquires will be kept in the Oxford shelter facility. They will not be accepting animal surrenders. 

The Board of Alderman did not allow time for public question or comment. It remains unclear as to why the city chose to hire a consulting agency, rather than to sign a new nonprofit to control the shelter.

Clearing the Shelter

Just hours before Tuesday’s Board of Alderman meeting, Animal Rescue Corps and its staff, headed by Tim Woodward, emptied the shelter. 

All of the dogs Woodward transported from the shelter were suffering from an infection.  

“I would say the biggest medical issue is that they all seem to be suffering with Giardia, which is a waterborne illness,” Woodward said. “It’s a parasite that we’ve begun treatment for already.”

Giardia causes intestinal issues like diarrhea, and is spread through the feces of infected animals. A more common name for a giardia infection is beaver fever, as people who drink water from rivers containing infected beavers contract the disease.

Empty dog crates
Some of the outdoor dog kennels at Oxford’s animal shelter were empty on Friday, March 19, 2021. Photo by Grace Marion

“We don’t find it in shelters as much as we do in kind of hoarding or neglect cases,” Woodward told the Mississippi Free Press on Tuesday. 

Otherwise, most of the 48 dogs recovered from the facility seemed healthy.

“There was a dog who has prolapsed anus that they had already treated, but it had recurred,” Woodward said. “So that dog we took to the vet first thing this morning. He’s just returning now. Hopefully the issue is fixed.”

Woodward described one other dog who had mange, which he had been told was treated at the last shelter. He noted that many of the dogs had been neither spayed or neutered. 

No cats remained inside the shelter, but the feral cat colony run by Nine Lives Cat Rescue residents greeted Woodward. 

“(A cat) came up and introduced himself and was quite friendly, and we asked about taking him,” Woodward said.” We were told that the last time that they put him in a crate, he became so fractious, that he actually broke his paw. So we decided to leave him with the colony.”

Woodward plans to transport them to adoption centers, after full medical and behavioral evaluations, beginning around the middle of next week. 

Recent donations of goods, such as cages and towels, were not given to the rescue group.

Correction: This story initially had part of the Animal Rescue Corps’ name wrong. It is corrected above, and we apologize for the error.

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