Reports cite Happy Tails for sanitation issues

Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 5:23 PM
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 6:58 AM
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Cleanliness issues top the complaints in reports that led to the state’s shutting down a Columbia County animal rescue.

Those reports were summed up in a final notice filed by Georgia Department of Agriculture inspectors Jan. 23 after a series of visits to Happy Tails Rescue in Appling.

Those inspections started as a routine, annual licensing visit last summer, department Animal Protection Manager Mark Murrah said in a written response to e-mailed questions.

When inspectors found violations, they came back repeatedly to check on the progress that Happy Tails was making – and ultimately weren’t satisfied.

In the final report, Murrah documented six uncorrected violations at the rescue.

Many of the violations focused on proper record-keeping for animals at the facility, but the report also criticized the tidiness of the 3.5-acre property and cited problems with pest control, sanitation and waste disposal.

As a result of those inspections, Happy Tails first was ordered to halt rescue activities. Then, on Jan. 31, the state agency filed an order revoking the license for Happy Tails, fining the nonprofit $11,000 and ordering all of the rescue pets to be removed  by March 18. The order was signed by Georgia Agriculture Secretary Gary Black.

Of that amount, $9,200 won’t have to be paid if the consent order is successfully completed, the document states. The remaining $1,800 is due in monthly installments of $150.

Barbara Gleitsmann, who lives on the property and operates Happy Tails, signed the consent order the day it was issued. There is no appeal because she signed the order and agreed to its terms, Murrah said.

Asked whether any of the issues in the report directly involve care or condition of the animals, Murrah said “sanitation, waste disposal and pest control issues can all greatly impact the health of the animals in a negative way.”

The report gives the rescue passing grades for six categories of animal care, including adequate food and water and humane care, and Gleitsmann denies the pets were kept in unsanitary conditions.

“One of the visits, when they came, the crates had not yet been cleaned in the morning,” Gleitsmann said. “We are in the country – there is a mouse problem sometimes, but we put out those sticky things.”

The rescue keeps six large garbage cans for weekly waste pickup, she said, and volunteers clean the kennels and crates daily.

Since word of the agency’s closure began filtering through the community, Gleitsmann said, she has heard from individuals and other area rescues offering to help.

“I’m just outraged by it,” said Frank Albert, a former Georgia state senator who adopted a cat from Happy Tails. “I really like her – I just respect her for doing what she does.

“The alternative is to take them out and snuff them, I guess.”

The 38 rescue dogs – now minus one placed on “trial” adoption Wednesday morning – must be removed by March 18, according to an agriculture department spokesman.

If any remain after that date, “our department will assist in working with other rescue groups to find homes for these animals,” Murrah said.

“I’m the eternal optimist,” Gleitsmann said. “Maybe there’s a reason for all this stress. It’s going to wake people up to the needs of this community.”

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paladin5
299
Points
paladin5 02/28/13 - 12:25 am
6
1
DOG GONE GOVERNMENT

"We are the Government and we are here to help you and the many stray and abused animals in your community" is a thought that comes to mind as I read the sad news about Happy Tails Rescue.

Barbara Gleitsmann has assisted me numerous times with stray dogs found on Patrol that did not meet the criteria for Columbia County Animal Services to respond. The only options I had was to keep the animal until morning at my residence or just let it go. I never found the release option giving me a good feeling, but that was the reality of the situations.

Barbara and her volunteers work hard to save many abandoned, abused, and stray animals. I often feel that her compassion created a "work overload" that other rescue organizations did not even begin to perform in terms of number of animals helped or placed for adoption.

Georgia has 159 counties of which many have serious animal control problems and the current economy situation has a significant impact on increasing that problem as more and more pets are abandoned. I have seen and experienced this problem in my job.

The closing of Happy Tails is a sad and unfortunate situation. For many animals the answer will be SAD TALES as the community has to accept the loss of a resource which contributed greatly to our social conscience about saving animals and preventing problems that other communities throughout the state experience daily. Sadly, Crematoriums will be an option of increased significance.

Little Lamb
45870
Points
Little Lamb 02/28/13 - 08:57 am
1
2
Odd

Isn't it kind of strange that they have a mouse problem at a facility housing dozens of cats?

csrareader
1287
Points
csrareader 02/28/13 - 11:16 am
4
0
"Asked whether any of the

"Asked whether any of the issues in the report directly involve care or condition of the animals, Murrah said “sanitation, waste disposal and pest control issues can all greatly impact the health of the animals in a negative way.”"

Hmmm.... so the State of Georgia's answer is to shut down the facility and sentence the remaining pets to death? Unless I'm missing something, killing an animal has a far greater negative impact on his/her health than mice or other minor regulatory violations.

MarinerMan
2107
Points
MarinerMan 02/28/13 - 01:04 pm
3
0
And One More Thing -- The Fine
Unpublished

$11K for dog poop, mice, and flies is outrageous. BTW: since the cats were in crates as well, they probably did not get out enough to do any serious mousing. The harsh reality is that we all probably should have heard about these issues and "inspector visits" sooner, and we might have been able to help. As it is, since Barbara has already signed the order, I think we're done with the battle, but probably not the war.

Sweet son
10372
Points
Sweet son 02/28/13 - 12:30 pm
5
0
I think that there must be a disgruntled neighbor!

None of the violations fit closing the facility or the fine!

Aceman
111
Points
Aceman 02/28/13 - 02:39 pm
3
4
There is a disgruntled neighbor

And with good reason. I wouldn't want to live next to it either. Most reasonable people wouldn't. One thing I can say about Barbara is that she never thinks she's done ANYTHING wrong and always plays the victim.

CobaltGeorge
158360
Points
CobaltGeorge 02/28/13 - 04:07 pm
3
0
Lets See

The report gives the rescue passing grades for six categories of animal care, including adequate food and water and humane care,

But

criticized the tidiness of the 3.5-acre property and cited problems with pest control, sanitation and waste disposal

Now what do you think the animals would rather have? I guess if they were running in the wild, they wouldn't have pest problems, sanitation problems or waste disposal plus they would keep their records in good order. Right?

Sweet son
10372
Points
Sweet son 02/28/13 - 06:29 pm
0
0
Aceman!

I hit the nail on the head!

Aceman
111
Points
Aceman 02/28/13 - 07:46 pm
1
0
Disgruntled neighbor

There is a story on WRDW.com about the neighbor and the problems they are experiencing.

laurelyn623
5
Points
laurelyn623 03/02/13 - 07:34 pm
0
1
Thank God Happy Tails Abuse is going away!

As a former unpaid worker who spent countless hours listening to screaming, hungry, and neglected dogs and fought hours on end to provide air conditioning for the sick cats living in the storage shed- I cannot be happier this awful place is going away. God bless the State of Georgia for believing these precious little ones deserve more than the hell the have been through at Barbara's house. No one commenting here has EVER been behind the gates, no one here ever helped me bury dead dogs, stop dog fights over tiny scraps of food, or watched as Barbara repeatedly kicked and screamed at tiny dogs. Good riddance!

dontflyfast
10
Points
dontflyfast 03/09/13 - 02:23 pm
0
0
The consent was signed under

The consent was signed under duress , what choice did she have , cough up 11k out of a non profit organization or take the 1,800 hit and make monthly payments . It was nothing short of blackmail ... I have been behind the fences and have no clue what laurelyn623 is going on about other then committing slander. I have know Barbara for 15 years and she has dedicated her life to animals and children.I don`t think this is over yet I believe the good people of this community will do there best to stop Happy Tails from closing and support Barbara every step of the way!

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