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International Effort Swells to Save Georgia’s “Canine Angels” by June 3 Deadline from GA Dept. of Agriculture Threat of Closure & Confiscation of Animals
In the international effort to save one of Georgia’s most necessary no-kill animal rescue and sanctuary efforts, “Canine Angels,” perhaps signer number 915 of the on-line petition that will be presented this week to the Governor, the Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner, and others said it best: “Shame on Georgia!”
Messages of protest from as far away as England, Europe and Australia have circled the internet in an attempt to stop the State from shutting down a no-kill animal rescue effort that has placed over 1,200 animals in adoptive homes in a six-year period, and currently houses 154 dogs and over a dozen cats. Proponents say that the two founders of the animal rescue and sanctuary, one of whom suffers from multiple sclerosis, have been unfairly persecuted by local and state government and ask if officers of some agencies broke the law. Charges against the sanctuary founders were dropped for lack of evidence but they still face $15,000 in fines. The States seeks to shut down the facility on June 3 and confiscate the remaining dogs. Animal activists say they will block all efforts to do so, including with legal challenges.
“We’ve got some of the biggest names in animal efforts supporting this campaign,” said Jim Willis, animal advocate and author of the best-selling book Pieces of My Heart. “There remain several open questions about whether some local and state officials should be charged with animal cruelty. There remain questions about whether Dept. of Ag’s Ray DeLuca has a personal vendetta against Canine Angels and a report by a neighbor that he was seen climbing over the sanctuary’s fence, and whether a former county animal control officer who was relieved of her duties broke laws and is responsible for the campaign of harrassment conducted against Canine Angels. There are reports that a critically ill dog was planted on their property and ‘discovered’ by an animal control officer. We’ve seen the photographic evidence of ‘animal control’ practices in that county that included driving animals to remote locations, shooting them, covering their bodies in lime and burying them in mass graves. We have eyewitness accounts. You can’t tell me that county and maybe state officials didn’t know what was going on there. We think the State Attorney General should be asking questions. And meanwhile, there was Canine Angels taking in the animals and finding them homes – including for the two years when there was no public funded shelter.”
An independent inspection of the Canine Angels facility and audit of their veterinary medical and adoption records conducted last week by an independent inspector, former animal control officer and Best Friends satellite sanctuary director Don Hills of Augusta, GA found the sanctuary to greatly exceed the level of care expected for such an animal facility. Hills said Canine Angels has struggled to operate in an “ungrateful community.”
Willis and other animal advocates say the treatment of Canine Angels founders Sue Wells and Lynette Rowe is “criminal” and instead of being praised for their efforts they have been persecuted, possibly because of their alternative lifestyle. Although an e-mail message from the Dept. of Ag’s legal officer was leaked last week that claims that all animals will be sent to other no-kill facilities and no animals will die, Willis said, “They have already proven themselves to be liars – why should we believe them now? Should those innocent animals be terrorized on June 3 by being hauled off from the only loving security they’ve probably ever known in their lives, we are asking the media to follow each and every one of them to report on their fate. We expect that fate in the State’s hands to be one of Georgia’s horrible gas chambers.”
A group of animal rescuers and supporters calling themselves Friends of Canine Angels has made arrangements to move some animals to other qualified rescues and no-kill facilities and is actively pursuing those efforts now.
“We still need a lot of help,” Willis said, “and updates about the needs will be posted on the Canine Angels website. Mostly, we need more time and with one phone call the Governor of Georgia can give us that. You only have to go to the Canine Angels website and the site created with some of the animals for adoption to see that the facilities are clean and that the animals are fat, healthy and happy.”
Supporters of Canine Angels encourage animal lovers worldwide to sign the petition in support of Canine Angels before Wednesday morning, May 31, when it will be sent to state officials and others.
Were asking everybody to call Gov. Perdue at his office 404-656-1776 Dept. of Ag. Commissioner Tommy Irvin at 404-656-3600 or 800-282-5852, the Animal Protection Division at 404-656-4914, and the Elbert County Commissioners at 706-283-2000 before June 2 and tell them to put a stop to this insanity,” Willis said.
He added,”We’ve already been in touch with the candidate running against Irvin in his bid for re-election. The Governor is up for re-election, too. Animal lovers make up an important part of any constituency and they have economic might – they vote their conscience. We hope Irvin will not be re-elected and there won’t be any such repeat of this travesty. Already people in other states and countries are writing to say that if Canine Angels is shut down, they won’t be spending their tourist dollars in Georgia. We’ve tried to be reasonable, we’ve tried to get the State to listen to reason. I can tell you one thing – if they stress and terrorize one animal by removing them from Canine Angels’s premises, then they are in for the fight of their political careers.”
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