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Illegal Animal Rescue Shut Down

09/07/2023

         Parsons Police Department and Code Enforcement have worked to shut down an illegal 'Animal Rescue' in the City of Parsons.

Community Service Officer Ricky Thompson has been conducting an investigation into the well-being and treatment of dogs in the 500 block of N 25th in Parsons. CSO Thompson was notified about the possibility of an illegal number of dogs in the area. While investigating the details of the report CSO Thompson met with the homeowner who had claimed to be running a 'nonprofit animal rescue'. CSO Thompson gathered details of the apparent business and contacted the City Attorney as well as the city Code Enforcement Officer. Pictures of the animals and living conditions of the dogs were gathered to evaluate with the City Attorney.

While CSO Thompson was gathering information for his investigation a Facebook post was made about the issue with the house and animals in the neighborhood. CSO Thompson, who was already aware of the home, was able to identify potential witnesses from the comments on the post to aid in the investigation.

Working with the City Attorney a decision was made for a legal course of action. It was determined that any animal sanctuary or rescues in that location would be illegal due to zoning issues and not being filed with the city. There was also no paperwork that showed it was a registered not-for-profit organization. There was also no current running water at the location or working sewer system.

On Wednesday September 6, 2023, Parsons Police Officers along with CSO Thompson and Code Enforcement went to the residence to shut down the operation and remove enough dogs to bring the number to the legally allowed number of animals under city code. The decision was made for the owners to remove all of the animals from the city so that they would not overburden the already heavily taxed staff at Parsons Pet Hospital. No animals were in immediate threat of harm while officers were on scene. As of September 7, 2023, all of the animals have been removed from the house. Code Enforcement will continue to monitor the property and take actions as needed and recommended by the City Attorney.

This investigation was already in the process and being looked into by city staff and the police department before it came to light on Facebook. As transparent as the police department tries to be with the citizens of Parsons, we cannot possibly inform everyone about each active investigation that is taking place. It is easy for people who are passionate about a subject to vent about staff and lack of knowledge. Social media has done a lot for transparency in law enforcement, but also leads to false claims about subjects that turn into pure distasteful and nasty comments. The City of Parsons and the Parsons Police Department work to keep citizens informed about hot subjects and are as transparent as possible with the public but not to a point that hinders an ongoing investigation. The police department does not sweep matters under the rug, or care more or less about any certain issues. We have a process that must be followed so we do not infringe on anyone's constitutional rights. As difficult as the situations may be there are procedural guidelines that cannot be deviated from.

We continue to stress the importance of community involvement when there are issues that arise in neighborhoods. Please call the police department and report any suspicious activities or situations that need a police response. Facebook and Messenger are not routinely monitored and are not a 'police report,' you still need to call the police to get a quick and speedy response to a situation.

This continues to be an on-going investigation and citizens are encouraged to "See It, Hear It, Report It." All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. If anyone has any further information on this incident or any other criminal activity, please contact the Parsons Police Department at 421-7060 or call the Tip Line at 421-7057 or email at tips@parsonspd.com.

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