Jim Willis, author of “How Could You?” and Pieces of My Heart, barked in to give us an update in the situation in Northeast Georgia with the Canine Angels Dogs, many of whom still need homes or sanctuary.
Coalition of volunteers rushes to aid of dogs in cooperation with GA Dept. of Ag and local authorities – New legal owner of dogs, author and animal advocate Jim Willis, praises cooperative effort for the animals
Dewy Rose, Georgia ,- Sometime late Wednesday evening, the owners and operators of the former Canine Angels Rescue & Referral, Inc. abandoned the remaining animals – over 100 dogs, nearly a dozen cats, a couple of birds, a tame wild boar and a domestic pig – and left for an undisclosed location. In late May, in a legal maneuver to gain control over the outcome of the animals who had lived in what some had referred to as a “hoarder” situation, animal adocate and author Jim Willis assumed ownership of the dogs and along with a coalition of volunteers, began working in cooperation with the George Department of Agriculture and other animal welfare organizations to ensure only no-kill solutions for the animals. The DoA had earlier ordered the facility closed and cited the operators for dozens of animal welfare violations. The operators are also in violation of county ordinances. The DoA has given Willis and the volunteers only a few more weeks to remove the animals from the property.
“We’re pleased with this development and high level of cooperation with State and local authorities,” Willis said today. “Now the adoption and transfer effort can proceed full-steam-ahead without any impedement. The situation is still critical – we desperately need volunteers at the farm to help out with animal care and grooming, and we need supplies such as flea & tick control products, tarps as shade for the dogs, heartworm test kits, higher quality food, carriers and crates to transport animals, gas cards for transports – and we need contributions as quite a few of the dogs need veterinary and other special care. We also need the help of no-kill organizations to take some of the dogs. We need a true sanctuary solution for about a half dozen under-socialized dogs who require special attention, and to expedite individual adoptions, we’ll be putting up an abbreviated adoption application on the website.”
Two charged after dogs abandoned Canine Angels case
By Lindsey Peacock | Banner-Herald Intern | Story updated at 11:00 PM on Friday, July 21, 2006
Dewy Rose, Georgia – The former owners of a local no-kill animal sanctuary now face animal cruelty charges from the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office after they left town this week, leaving nine dogs inside their mobile home and more than 100 outside.
Meanwhile, volunteers at the animal sanctuary are slowly beginning to pare down the number of animals, from the 110 remaining animals to somewhere around 50 by Monday, according to Don Hill, a volunteer at the sanctuary.
Sue Wells and Lynette Rowe, the founders of the Northeast Georgia Canine Angels dog sanctuary, were charged Friday with 13 counts each of cruelty to animals after Elbert County sheriff’s deputies found 13 dogs in need of medical attention inside the women’s home, according to Maj. David Cleveland. “There was a significant amount of evidence found (Thursday) that warranted the charges,” Cleveland said.
Elbert County Animal Control officers contacted the sheriff’s department Thursday morning, asking deputies to get a search warrant for a mobile home where nine dogs were locked inside for more than a day without enough food or water, according to Cleveland.
Animal control officers couldn’t enter the trailer immediately because of the extensive amount of dog urine and feces covering the floor, authorities said. “I had to wear a respirator to go inside,” said Animal Control Officer Jeff Simpson. “To my standards, (the conditions) were deplorable.”
Eight of the nine dogs required immediate medical attention, and Animal Control officers took four other animals to a local veterinarian.
A total of 11 dogs are still receiving medical attention and eventually will be put up for adoption.
Rowe and Wells had apparently left the animals, who were their personal pets, in the mobile home and intended to return and retrieve them, but had failed to do so as of Thursday afternoon. Several volunteers were concerned and contacted animal control officers to get the dogs out.
The volunteers couldn’t enter the home themselves because Wells and Rowe had advised that no one was to enter the trailer “under any circumstances” and the volunteers were afraid of being charged with trespassing, according to Hill.
The two women have wrangled with local animal control and state agriculture officials for a year, but the conflict reached a head last spring, when Wells agreed to close the shelter in a negotiated settlement with the state Department of Agriculture and a North Carolina man agreed to take most of Canine Angels’ dogs.
That man, Jim Willis, legally owns the 110 animals currently living outside the trailer. Willis, a North Carolina animal advocate, knew Rowe and Wells would be leaving the sanctuary by the end of the week but didn’t expect them to leave their pets behind. “I don’t think they had any intention of leaving the dogs in the trailer,” Willis said. “But everyone thought that it would be a good idea (that they left) because of personality conflicts.”
For the past month or so KAT5, a rescue group formed after Hurricane Katrina displaced thousands of pets last summer, has been maintaining the sanctuary along with the help of several volunteers, who will continue to care for the animals since Wells and Rowe probably won’t be returning, according to KAT5 Field Officer Cassandra Koster. “I think they just had some issues and decided to leave (the dogs) here with people they knew would take care of them,” Koster said.
The responsibility for caring for the dogs and searching for new adoptive homes will be left to Koster, who is working at the shelter on Willis’ behalf.
An Atlanta veterinarian will take seven of the remaining dogs to adopt out through his Homeless Pets Foundation, and the owner of an animal fostering service called the Grace Works Foundation is supposed to take between 40 and 60 of the dogs, according to Willis.
“We really need volunteers out there to help and adopters for the dogs,” Willis said. “I look forward to a happy ending, and I’m confident that this all will conclude soon.”
Potential adopters may contact Koster at (740) 972-6754 for more information.
Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 072206
NOTE: The website for the former Canine Angels is currently under construction and will be updated continuously to reflect the current need for volunteers and supplies, as well as a details about the animals in need of immediate adoption and transfer to other no-kill shelters and organizations, and contact information.
An emergency fund has been established to contribute to the medical and regular care of the animals. Non-tax-deductible contributions may be sent by PayPal to:
Jim has taken quite a few hits for stepping in and putting his reputation on the line. His ONLY interest in all of this is to see that the dogs and cats are cared for and find forever homes. He deserves a lot of credit for both standing up for the animals and making sure that the world gets the WHOLE story, no matter how gritty or uncomfortable.
Big barks, Jim!