Editor’s note: This is a developing story.

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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.

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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 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, says the dog was harmed during the demolition; the property owner, however, claims the dog was hit by a car.

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Scott-McKinney and McMillen admit they were trespassing to try to remove the puppies when the property owner called authorities. Deputies showed up and arrested the pair.

Here’s where it gets confusing. 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 denied access to necessary medication. That is deeply shady. The pair has now been released after locals showed up to the detention center to protest.

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Animal rights advocates jumped into action to support two women jailed for trespassing in a puppy rescue that got heated.

The property owner, who hasn’t yet made a statement to the public, said he was caring for the puppies and had moved the mother, provided her with food, and 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.

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Social media got quite lively, with hypotheses that the puppies were dead and multiple users taking up the banner #showmethepuppies. Fundraising T-shirts were made. The mayor of Altus got involved. 

As of Thursday evening, it appeared all the dogs – mama and pups – have been turned over to the Artemis Project for care. That’s great news.

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But if the Artemis Project is correct about how the deputies handled this issue, arresting people there to rescue puppies in distress, this is deeply concerning on multiple levels. It would mean a 73-year-old woman was thrown in jail for doing a good deed, and without her medication.

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.

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