Over 150 dogs of the Canine Angels Rescue in Dewy Rose, GA, were saved from an uncertain fate at the hands of the Georgia Department of Agriculture when best-selling author Jim Willis, founder of The Tiergarten Sanctuary Trust, adopted them Tuesday. He wonders about the coincidence of Dept. of Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin issuing a press release early this morning offering all of the dogs for adoption at no cost, “as is,” beginning Friday morning and continuing Saturday. The DOA plans to shutdown the rescue facility as of June 3 in a move supporters call “unfair” and “persecution.”
“I appreciate the State’s interest in the future welfare of the dogs,” Willis said, “but I and my agents, staff, volunteers, and attorneys will be making responsible decisions about the placement of my dogs.”
Willis adopted the pets to keep them out of the kill shelters in the area.
Willis is the best-selling author of the book Pieces of My Heart“and his books have been published in seven countries. He is best known for an essay about an unwanted dog, “How Could You?” that has been translated into over 40 languages. When the story has been read on the radio in major cities such as Toronto, it has stopped traffic as drivers pulled off the road in tears, unable to drive. Whenever it has been published in newspapers, local shelters have seen a surge in adoptions. He founded Tiergarten in Germany in 1990 and has personally been responsible for placing several thousand animals.
“I’ve been in touch with some of the national animal protection organizations and have asked for their support in this placement effort,” Willis said. “Randy Grim, the author known for his book about Quentin the Miracle Dog has written to Irvin and asked him to support this effort. We’ve got several of the media coming out this week and finally the truth is being told about the wonderful efforts of Canine Angels and its founders Sue Wells and Lynette Rowe. None of us understands why they have been persecuted and we wonder if their private relationship has anything to do with it.
“My story ‘How Could You?’ has an all too-true sad ending,” Willis said. “But for the former dogs of Canine Angels, now my dogs, they can look forward to a future of love and good care as companion animals.”
Wells and Rowe said the rescue action by Willis and a group of loyal supporters calling themselves Friends of Canine Angels is nothing short of a miracle.
There has been some suspicion that Canine Angels has been the target of persecution by some of the local officials and those in businesses that make money off the exploitation of dogs. After a series of harassment, Canine Angels was ordered to close as of June 3rd and its animals given over to local officials and the local kill shelter.
“Our work isn’t done yet,” said Don Hill, a former animal control officer supervisor and former director of a Best Friends satellite sanctuary, and now an authorized agent of The Tiergarten Sanctuary Trust. “After we place the dogs in good homes we want Canine Angels’ license restored so they can continue their much needed rescue efforts and we want the $15,000 in fines dropped that the DOA is forcing Sue and Lynette to pay. They don’t need that. They did the animal welfare work that should have been done by the county for years with very little thanks or assistance.”
“It would kill us and cancel out over six years of hard work if anything bad were to happen to those dogs,” Wells said. Wells suffers from multiple sclerosis and supporters say the ordeal of dealing with the DOA and trying to save her animals’ lives has exhausted her.
Friends of Canine Angels invites all supporters to come for coffee and doughnuts early Friday morning at the sanctuary. Irvin’s press release stated that the DOA adoption effort would begin at 10 a.m. Friday. Willis said adoption and other information will be placed on the Canine Angels website with a link for donations to care and transportation costs for the animals.
“About all the DOA can have then is a cup of coffee and a doughnut. They certainly can’t have any of my dogs. They’ll be met by friendly Canine Angels supporters and the legal documentation that those dogs are mine and I and my agents will be making all decisions about them. The DOA has no jurisdiction over a sanctuary and The Tiergarten Sanctuary Trust. If they aren’t invited onto the property they will be trespassing.”
Earlier this week internationally-known and respected founder of Stray Rescue of St. Louis and author of Quentin the Miracle Dog, Randy Grim weighed in on the side of Canine Angels and their rescued dogs and cats.
Dear Mr. Irvin,
I am writing to you in support of Canine Angels. From my research, I have found that this organization has provided a valuable service to the community and has passed inspections independent of your organization. It appears that this battle is not based entirely on fact and has too many questionable issues surrounding it.
It seems to me that the Department of Agriculture should focus their attention on bigger issues such as animal abuse, animal fighting rings and puppy mills.
Please do the right thing and help support the local shelters and devote your resources to ending the blatant abuse, the pitbull fighting issues and the horrific, substandard breeding facilities.
The story isn’t over yet. Willis and the Canine Angels are still looking for forever homes for dogs that have been temporarily rescued by Willis’ generosity.
Prospective adopters can come to the facility at 2179 Pulliam Mill Road, Dewy Rose, beginning June 1st, by arrangement. Call 706-213-9001 or 706-296-4488 for more information,
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and visit their website
Everyone is encouraged to sign the on-line petition in support of Canine Angels:
See also today’s story in The Athens Banner Herald, “Deadline to Move Dogs from Rescue Looms”:
That’s the story so far but I’m sure there is more to come. Way to go Jim!!!