RIPLEY • A change.org petition to shut down First Monday Trade Day’s dog yard in Ripley was nearing 85,000 signatures early Thursday afternoon.  A local animal rescue group started the petition this past weekend after finding a dead dog at the flea market on Saturday, May 30.

Maegan Cunningham, founder of Ru to the Rescue, said she has informed First Monday owners of the inhumane animal conditions and about workers and vendors not following First Monday rules or federal laws by depriving animals of water.

“I am so angry and heartbroken at what I witnessed Saturday,” said Cunningham. “My pleas were obviously ignored. I sent them numerous texts, pictures, and videos. Saturday the inevitable happened. I found a dead dog inside a crate. No shade. No water. The owner of the animal stated she had a seizure. Heat strokes cause seizures. We have named this sweet baby ‘Hope.’ We ‘hope’ now people will listen and these voices will be heard.”

Cunningham has asked locals and state government officials “to stop the abuse and neglect that animals endure while being chained and caged at First Monday by sellers hoping to make money off of their lives.”

“Sellers bring dogs that are sick and emaciated. People report the fowl are stuffed into bags and dragged around. Other small animals are kept in containers without adequate ventilation. Puppy mill operators are free to use the market as they sell puppies from neglected and over-bred dogs.”

First Monday co-owner Jerry Windham said the flea market has very strict rules regarding the treatment of animals and if he had known of the dead dog last weekend he would have asked the vendor to leave.  They are still investigating the incident and he said proper channels were not followed to report the vendor’s violation to First Monday officials.  

Windham asks people who see any market violations to flag down a staff member or call the First Monday office and leave a message, which will be texted directly to market officials within seconds.

“A staff person will take care of it. That's the best way to do it. Come get us and let us investigate because if we had somebody here with a sick animal or someone with a dog that was dead, I would ask that vendor to leave and I would ask him to never come back again. But now we don't know who it is, because we were taken out of the equation to be able to rectify the problem, and we were actually hindered in this process.”

Windham said the flea market has strict rules about the treatment of animals and those rules are posted on the flea market’s website, in their guidebook, and printed on every ticket a vendor selling an animal buys. Animals must have water, must have food and must have an appropriate cage size for the size of the animal. They must have shade and shelter pending certain weather conditions.

“I know that we get the rap for allowing this. Well, we don't allow it. I don't know what people do when they're not here, and I don't know what they do when they leave. But while they are here, they're feeding their dog. They're going to have food, they're going to have water, and they're going to have shelter required.”

Windham says First Monday is currently looking to see if they can do more and are always wanting to help the situation.

“We don't want to be a problem, and we're going to do whatever we can to make it the best market ever. We're going to keep working to make it better,” concluded Windham.

Until a better solution is found, rescue groups and people like Cunningham will continue to monitor the situation and fight for the rights of the animals at First Monday. Cunningham asks government officials to “do the right thing.” She pleas with them to “Shut down all animal sales at First Monday!”

The petition can be viewed at, https://www.change.org/p/tate-reeves-shut-down-first-monday-s-dog-yard-in-tippah-county-ms?recruiter=1099734526&recruited_by_id=697c07f0-a2e8-11ea-ab3e-893f290177c1&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=petition_dashboard

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