BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Animal activists and concerned citizens had their voices heard at the Nov. 14 Board of Commissioners meeting.
After a viral post on Facebook concerning two at-large German Shepherds ended in the dogs being falsely claimed at Fannin County Animal Control (FCAC), concerns over FCAC policy and procedure became a topic of discussion in the community.
Commissioners were met with several residents ready to voice their concerns over animal control and over allegations made that Commission Chairman Stan Helton showed indifference to the situation.
First to speak in the Public Commentary portion of the meeting was Ralph Garner of Blue Ridge. Garner began by giving a list of items that he felt Helton had positively handled but quickly shifted into the issue of animal control stating, “His oversight of the ongoing problems with animal control is just not acceptable.”
Garner went on to defend Tri State Pet Rescue’s Founder Jan Eaton over allegations that Helton had made an insulting comment to her during a phone call. Garner said that Helton’s insult “to our area’s premier companion dog rescuer cannot be overlooked. It needs to be called out and exposed.”
Jan Eaton herself spoke out about the indifference she felt she faced when trying to discuss issues regarding animal control. Eaton had asked to be put on the agenda to have more time allotted but had been turned down.
Eaton stated, “I’m researching to see if anybody has ever been put on the agenda that’s not a county employee, because if so, that is a definite first amendment violation, in my humble opinion.”
FetchYourNews reached out to Helton regarding the public commentary. Helton stated, “I have respect for all of the citizens of Fannin County. I still stand behind our employees at animal control, but I do take the time to look into each concern individually.”
Eaton also addressed the mistakes made in following policy at FCAC when it comes to owner reclaims. She stated that the current policy only requires that proof of rabies be brought for dogs to be released.
Jangling a set of rabies tags, Eaton stated, “They come in waving rabies tags and saying that is my dog. That doesn’t mean jack squat unless you call those rabies tags in and see if they match those dogs.”
A resident of McCaysville also spoke of policy at FCAC. He proposed that animal control make it standard to take a photocopy of the driver’s license of the person claiming a dog. He stated that it would be a way, if need arose, to track down the person who picked up the animal.
Fannin County Animal Control Department Head John Drullinger has looked into ways to improve the department’s current policy. A few of his suggested changes include:
Ask the person attempting to reclaim the pet if they can provide photographic evidence of ownership.
In cases where the pet is going to be reclaimed after ownership has been verified and the rabies tag has been verified to be current:
1. Make a copy of the driver’s license of the owner.
2. Photograph the vehicle the owner is picking up the pet in, regardless if it is the pet owner’s car or not, be sure to include an angle showing the license plate or include a separate photo of the license plate.
These revisions to the policy are not finalized and are still under review.
Also stepping up to try to provide a solution is the Humane Society of Blue Ridge (HSBR). A letter was sent out on behalf of HSBR describing their concern for recent events involving FCAC and the ongoing issue of stray and lost dogs in Fannin County.
The letter offered help stating, “After discussing the situation, our board came up with the suggestion that the FCAC officers microchip the dogs that are either reclaimed from, or adopted out of, the animal control facility. This would be a good way to decrease the number of unidentifiable lost dogs in Fannin County and would assist FCAC officers in returning pets to their owners.”
The letter went on to say, “Should the county and FCAC decide to initiate such a program, the HSBR would like to work with FCAC to help support a microchipping program for dogs adopted from, and those reclaimed from, the animal control facility.”
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