D.C.-based Animal Rescue Corps clears White Pine facility

Posted on Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Animal Rescue

In this photo provided by Animal Rescue Corps, a volunteer checks the status of a dog being rescued from a White Pine animal facility.

Dozens of animals were rescued from a Leeper’s Ferry Road facility in White Pine Saturday night by a Washington D.C.-based animal group.

As of Saturday night, Melissa Renee Turner, 45, of East Skyline Drive, had racked up 63 counts of animal cruelty, but that number could rise depending on the final tally of animals found.

Friday, animal control officers received a complaint about the residence on Leeper’s Ferry Road.

When animal control officer Robert Short arrived at the location, he said he could smell urine and feces.

Short said when they entered the house, they saw dogs lying in feces and “the lady refused to surrender the animals.”

Turner was taken into custody and later released after posting a $5,000 bond.

According to a court order Turner, is not allowed to interfere with animal control officers while they are investigating this case.

An arrest warrant has been issued for a second suspected owner and operator of the facility, who remains at large.

Around 6:15 p.m. Saturday, more than 40 volunteers with Animal Rescue Corps arrived at the derelict home with vans and supplies to rescue the animals.

Rescue Corps president Scotlund Haisley said the home had electricity, but no heat.

“Less than 24-hours ago we got a call from the local authorities here telling us about the suffering of the animals,” Haisley said. “We’re a strike team, we respond to animals in a great deal of suffering. We’re finding exactly what we were told we were going to find. Horrendous conditions.”

Haisley explained that once they remove the animals they will take them to an emergency shelter in Lebanon, Tenn. where vets will assess the animals’ health.

Any animal in critical condition will be treated first. The animals will receive bedding, fresh food and water.

The vets were standing ready Saturday night.

“It’s hard to say what their condition is, because we haven’t seen them all yet,” Haisley said. “There are several inches of feces on the ground, urine; they’re stacked on top of each other.

“We’re seeing evidence of internal and external parasites, upper respiratory infections, dogs with missing limbs. The conditions are as bad as I’ve seen.”

Haisley said they could be there for several hours.

We take animal cruelty reports seriously in Hamblen County and these conditions were unacceptable,” said Sheriff Esco Jarnagin. “We’re grateful Animal Rescue Corps could assist us so quickly to address this situation and bring the animals to safety.”

Animal Rescue Corps’ mission is “to end animal suffering through direct and compassionate action, and to inspire the highest ethical standards of humanity towards animals.

- By A. Davidson, Tribune Staff Writer

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