Sunday, January 12, 2014

Jane Austen and the Reverend Brette Brown

New information has come to light. I thought the good Reverend Brette Brown (real name Darla), who was supposed to be fostering Jane Austen had taken her to the pet store and abandoned her in the cat habitat. Not so. She carried Jane into the pet store and 
                      LEFT HER IN A SHOPPING CART.

 I hope if I ever see Brette Brown again that there is someone there to prevent me from beating the shit out of her.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Continuing Saga of Jane Austen

When I got up I had a private message on Facebook from a man telling me to call a number if I wanted to know what happened to Jane Austen. I called immediately.

He identified himself as Greg Pollan with New Beginnings, the animal rescue group that was fostering Jane, or so I believed. He, too, thought I deserved an answer as to what happened to her. 

It turns out that Reverend Brette Brown (real name Darla), formerly of Las Vegas (NV), Eugene (OR), Horn Lake (MS) and somewhere in Wisconsin (and who is attending school next week in Florida to become a life coach ), who initially fostered the cats and became my "friend," could no longer take care of Jane. I completely understand and sympathize with her domestic situation. What I don't understand is why she told the rescue group that Jane had been placed in a forever home, and told me that she was being fostered by another member of the group.

Around Thanksgiving, Brette Brown took Jane Austen and put her in the cat habitat at a pet store and abandoned her there. When it was time to pick her up and no one came, the store turned her over to the shelter. Thank God it was Southaven Animal Shelter who got the call. Perry Mason runs a very-low, almost no-kill shelter. Jane has been there ever since.

When I started raising hell wanting to know what happened to Jane, the group started looking for her, putting two and two together. The man who messaged me is the president of that group and he knew he had seen a cat fitting Jane's description there. The dates and facts fit, so Jane was found and is, now, finally, in the safe foster home she was supposed to be in all this time.

I am so grateful to all those involved in caring for her and seeing to it that she remained alive, safe and fed that I really have no words. From the bottom of my heart, Greg, Terri, Cheri, Perry and the Southaven Shelter, thank you, and God bless. Happy new year!

If you have funds to donate to a worthy cause, please consider New Beginnings and the Southaven Animal Shelter. 

Monday, October 07, 2013

Please Help Jane Austen

Welcome to Horn Lake, Mississippi Again

I am not at all satisfied with the answers I am getting from the new animal control director, so I will take this matter public, and will be presenting it at a town meeting. I'd like to urge all interested parties to join me. If you are interested, please contact me on my Facebook page or at

After three written attempts to get help, one face-to-face attempt, and a phone call with the new director, Dan Smith, I feel it is necessary to publish a copy of my latest letter to him here.


Dear Mr. Smith,

As I’m sure you have heard by now, there are some issues with the Horn Lake Animal Shelter that I’d like to discuss with you. I understand you are the new director and have inherited whatever problems exist there, and that you will need some time to discover what they are and how to fix them. As someone relatively new to rescuing, I am at a loss about some of them myself, and would appreciate both alerting you to what I see as some of the issues, and receiving a reply regarding them.

My first issue is to question that county-wide decree that 

“If you feed it, it’s yours.”

First of all, I’d like to know if this is a law, and if so, please quote the statute so that I may look it up.

Secondly, I’d like to challenge the soundness of this decree. I recently rescued a literally starving cat and her kittens from a storm drain. It appears that someone had tossed her out; she was scared and desperate. I was told by one of the shelter workers that they aren’t taking in cats; they have no room. So what should I have done? Should I have left her to starve? Should I have returned her once I’d gained her trust and brought her and her kittens home to keep them safe? I already have a number of cats of my own (all spayed and neutered, thank you), feed two ferals (one I have tamed to make her suitable for adoption), and cannot possibly keep more. So, if an animal needs to be rescued, but there's no room at the inn, what good will it do to call animal control to have it picked up? What will happen to it other than being euthanized because there's nowhere to shelter it?

The next issue is regarding the shelter hours.

As I understand it, the shelter is open Mon - Fri. I think that most families hoping to adopt a pet try to do it on Saturday, when they aren't working and aren't in school. Wouldn't a lot more animals be adopted if the shelter was open on the day that people are most likely to go there? It seems to me that’s a lot of input without much output. Why would you not be open on the one day that would be most helpful to the animals?


The next is the inability of the public to volunteer.
I know all about the issues from last year with the police officer / starve the dog issue. It was a year ago. How long are you going to let that affect the rest of the animals? Time to move on.

One of your employees told me another reason is that the volunteers try to run things. First of all, the shelter doesn't belong to the shelter employees, or even to the town. It belongs to the public, paid for by taxpayer dollars. But, okay, I can see the need for some control. Why not just have one of the employees organize and supervise them? Then if the volunteers don’t like their assignments, they don’t have to return. Don’t make the animals suffer because someone feels her authority is challenged.

The mentality of certain people there (not all) seems to be "can't do." They have an excuse for everything, as far as I can tell. In a short conversation last weekend, all I heard was why they can’t do this, can’t do that. I’ll come back to this one.

The next issue is lack of follow-through.

When I first rescued this cat and discovered that there was no room for her at the shelter, I started searching online for what to do next because I cannot keep her (I also now consider the shelter a last resort). I was told that it was fine (great, even!) to foster this cat myself, and that the shelter would help advertise her availability. They said to send pictures to the shelter by email and gave me the email address. I sent them immediately. The pictures were never posted. When I asked about this over the weekend, the employee told me that either

a)    she was unable to open the pictures (they were jpg), or
b)    they were the wrong size, or
c)    she wrote back stating that she was having a problem with them. I never heard back, and I would appreciate it very much, please, if you would search the shelter’s email history and verify that the attempt to contact me was actually made, because I don’t believe it.
d)    I don’t know if you’re aware, but an individual can’t get an animal’s profile on Petfinders without going through the shelter. Precious weeks have passed while the highly adoptable kittens have grown, every day less adoptable.

(I eventually posted a picture to the shelter Facebook page myself, but still can’t get on Petfinders).

And that returns me to the shelter employee’s “can’t do” mentality.

Some of the shelter employees aren't at all pro-active. Instead of engaging the public at the adoption event over the weekend, one was too busy reading a book. I love books. I'm a writer, and I'm all for books! But not when an animal's life and future is at stake. When you have an adoption event, you need to be working on getting those animals adopted. When at work, you need to be working.

I also think that you need to get the animals closer to the people, not so far away that people don't even see them! I went into the football crowd to try to rouse interest, and even when I pointed out the awning, some people still couldn't see it. I was told that the animals aren’t set up close to the public because they will get too excited. But by not doing so, it sends the message that they aren’t socialized. I think y’all could learn a lot from some of the rescue groups, such as the one having an event on the 19th.
And that brings me to another issue that isn’t the fault of the shelter, the director, or the employees, but maybe one you should be aware of all the same.

With attitudes like this from some of the individuals who rescue / foster towards the general public like me who don’t normally do so, and who don’t know the ins and outs of it, and ask for advice, are not helpful. This was one of the nicer ones. 

Thank you very much for your time and attention, Mr. Smith. I look forward to hearing from you regarding these matters.


Lesia Valentine

Unfortunately, I never heard back from this man after three letters, a face-to-face with the shelter employees, and a phone call. I didn't hear back from him until I had to call the mayor, Allen Latimer, who seems to be a very nice man. And when I talked to the new animal control director, all I got was more "can't do."

Please visit the My Name is Jane Austen Facebook Page

UPDATE: Someone kindly sent me a link to this blog article on the investigation of animal abuse at the shelter last year. Please report it, should it become broken. Thanks.

UPDATE January 1, 2014

This poor cat! Jane and her kittens were taken in by a rescue group called New Beginnings in northwest Mississippi. I became friends with their new foster mother, so I was able to get updates on them and know how they were doing. But then circumstances forced her to turn them over to someone else in the group. Three of the kittens were adopted. We all knew Jane would be harder to place because she was an adult, and was very timid after the horrible start she got in life. I contacted the group and was told how to contact their new foster mother. When I inquired about Jane, she told me she didn't have Jane, and never did! So I went back to the group and asked again, "Where is Jane?" I can't get a straight answer and I'm being stonewalled. If you love animals please contact the group and tell them that I deserve an answer! Thank you!


Cheri seems like a nice person and I'm not finding fault with her! I'm just trying to find out what became of Jane - and now I want DETAILS, because "she was adopted," isn't going to cut it.