Photo by Courtesy Elizabeth "Pippa" Jackson
Elizabeth "Pippa" Jackson, owner and operator of the Mississippi Animal Rescue Fund--a non-profit, no-kill animal shelter and adoption agency--began taking in and caring for animals starting with a goat she received from a ride operator at the county fair when she was 4 years old. After years of taking in stray animals, Jackson and her husband Charles--also a dedicated animal lover--started ARF in 2005. The organization has to date adopted more than 650 dogs and cats and rescued more than 1,000. All of ARF's animals receive excellent emergency veterinary care and immunizations, and are spayed or neutered.
Shortly after ARF began operation, Hurricane Katrina struck and Jackson assisted the United Animal Nations' Emergency Animal Rescue Service in taking in and caring for the pets of displaced families flooding into the Jackson metro area, working out of a temporary shelter set up at the Jackson fairgrounds. Jackson's skill earned her an endorsement from EARS that helped ARF grow, eventually allowing the purchase of property located on 22 acres of industrial-zoned land at 1963 Holly Bush Road in Pelahatchie. Jackson named the facility the Miriam Weems Animal Sanctuary after one of the organization's most loyal supporters and a longtime animal rescuer.
Recently, ARF has met with opposition from locals. Neighbors of ARF's facilities complained to the Rankin County Board of Supervisors that they did not want the animal shelter near their homes. The board gave ARF until Nov. 15 to relocate and later extended the deadline to Nov. 30. Jackson was able to find a suitable location for a new facility in an old warehouse on West Mayes Street in Fondren; however, residents have started a petition stating they do not want the new shelter next to them, either. At this time the 300 dogs and 100 cats in ARF's care is uncertain, as the City Council has not issued a response in regard to the new petition. Jackson said that she has received proper approval from the city to build the shelter and is in compliance with local regulations.
"We went before the city of Jackson, shared what we going to use the property for," Jackson told WLBT. "They gave us the list of requirements and we are complying with all of those."
Jackson has plans to increase community involvement with responsible pet ownership programs, behavior and obedience training and an education initiative on the necessity of spaying and neutering.
ARF is looking for volunteers to help make the move from the Pelahatchie facility to Jackson. For information, contact the Mississippi Animal Rescue Fund at 601-750-2740.