Board questions animal control policy

By Billy Corriher

A new rule from Clayton County Animal Control that is designed to raise more money is drawing fire from the local Humane Society and the Animal Control Advisory Board.

Animal Control recently instituted a new rule that representatives from rescue groups, like the Humane Society, must wait an additional two days to adopt a stray animal. Before, the groups could adopt the pets after three days, like any other member of the public.

But rescue groups do not pay an adoption fee, and Animal Control was hoping to give the the public a chance to adopt the animal first, so it wouldn't miss out on collecting the fees.

Representatives of rescue groups, at the Animal Control Advisory Board meeting Monday night, took issue with the new rule.

"It made no sense to extend the period of time the animals are held," said Michelle Bryant, president of the Clayton County Humane Society.

Bryant said she worried about the health of animals in the care of Animal Control because of the shelter's level of cleanliness and its overcrowding. She said she witnessed workers sanitizing dog cages with bleach and not sanitizing water and food dishes when the dogs were moved.

Capt. Toni Tidwell said she has asked workers to properly sanitize the cages, and the shelter has a high turnover with the county inmates who work there.

Tidwell said a lack of funding is a major problem for Animal Control, and Clayton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Crandle Bray told her to find a way to raise more money. So, she instituted the new rule to draw more adoption fees.

Advisory Board member Robin Rawls, who is also the vice president of the local Humane Society chapter, said that instituting a fee for people who surrender their pets to the shelter would be a better way to raise money.

The Advisory Board agreed that the idea of a $25 fee for dropping off a pet was better than the new adoption rule for rescue groups.

Although sick and "unadoptable" pets could be given to the rescue groups after three days, Rawls said she worried about all the animals who would still be in the shelter.

Rawls said the dogs at the shelter are given food with no nutritional value that gives them diarrhea, which affects the likelihood they will be adopted.

The shelter also does not provide age-appropriate food for puppies and kittens, Rawls said, adding that she even bought food for some kittens who couldn't eat the adult cat food.

"I provided the food so these kittens would not starve," she said.

Tidwell said the shelter does not have the money for better food, especially since most of the animals are not there very long before they're destroyed.