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Officials are saying 100 or more dogs and cats were dumped in a creek by a former Canton animal control officer accused of shooting and killing them.

Canton Alderman Charles Weems said the Board of Aldermen was presented photographs of several of the animals in various stages of decomposing.

"All I had to see was three, and that was enough for me. It's repulsive and sickening," Weems said.

The Board of Aldermen on Tuesday approved the firing of Alonzo Esco after a citizen complaint led to an investigation and discovery of the remains of about 100 animals, Weems said.


Esco worked as the animal control officer for the city for three years. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Esco has not been charged with any crime as authorities consider their options for prosecution, Madison County District Attorney Michael Guest said Thursday.

The most Esco likely would face is multiple counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, which is punishable by up to six months in jail, Guest said. The county prosecutor's office will proceed with the case.

"At this point, I don't see anything that would result in any felonies," Guest said.

Weems said Esco was the only person in animal control, a division within the Canton Police Department. As an animal control officer, Esco could kill animals, but only if they were maimed or a threat to the community, Weems said.

"It's unbelievable someone could do something like that to these animals," Weems said "This is worse than Michael Vick."

Vick played for the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League for six seasons before serving 18 months in prison for his involvement in an illegal dogfighting ring. He now plays for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Esco also provided animal control duties for Madison County until the county's contract with the city expired at the end of 2008, Board of Supervisors President Tim Johnson said.

Johnson said he also was told by someone close to the investigation that more than 100 animal remains were found.

"I'm married to a veterinarian, so this obviously hits close to home," Johnson said.

Canton police opened the investigation when a woman filed a complaint after a pet she wanted to adopt never turned up at the Mississippi Animal Rescue League.

Assistant Police Chief Bracy Coleman said on Thursday he could not comment.

In Mississippi, felony charges can be considered in dogfighting, the killing of public service animals and intentional animal poisoning, but the laws exclude all other animal cruelty deaths.

The lack of felony offenses for animal cruelty is why many animal rights groups consider Mississippi one of the worst for animal protection.

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund 2009 State Animal Protection Laws Ranking, Mississippi is the fifth worst in the country.

Over the past five years, Sen. Bob Dearing, D-Natchez, has fought to strengthen the state's animal cruelty laws. Dearing said he is drafting a bill that would make animal cruelty toward a dog or cat a felony after the third offense.

"If someone mistreated my little dog, I don't know if I would be able to control myself. Ask anyone with a cat or dog. Pets become one of the family," he sa

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