Charles Frank Strother, 52, of Wadley, Ga., was released from the Burke County Jail late Thursday afternoon, where he had been since his arrest Monday on 19 counts of illegal dumping charges -- one for each carcass found by a county work crew Nov. 29 along Old Wadley Road.
Strother apologized for dumping the dogs in Burke County, but said he didn't know what county he was in at the time.
"I deeply apologize to the citizens of Burke County," he said. "At the time, I was distraught about putting my dogs down. I loved those dogs. It wasn't no spiteful move to the citizens of Burke County."
An attorney has also volunteered to represent Strother pro bono when his case comes up in court. And he has received support from his church family, his co-workers at the Huddle House in Louisville, Ga. -- where he is a chef -- and the local business community, he said.
"I feed and wait on a lot of people in Jefferson County," he said. "A lot of important people."
Strother said after the dogs in the pen had killed some of the others and their puppies, he tried to enter, but they growled and acted as though they would attack him, too. So he called the Wadley Police Department and asked officers to come put the dogs down. He was advised that Chief Wesley Lewis said they could not do that, but that he could do it himself. They also warned him not to go in the pen, he said.
"In his own words, if they were a threat to my family, to me, the community or the other animals, I could do what I had to do," Strother said. "They had already had a taste for blood. When that ran out, they might attack somebody. They might dig out and attack some of the children going to school. If they attacked somebody, I would really be in some trouble."
So he killed the dogs because he had to protect his family and the community, he said.
When asked why he dumped the dogs along a public road, Strother said he wasn't even thinking at the time.
"I wanted to get them off my property," he said. "I loaded them on my truck and drove, crying all the time. I turned off on a dirt road. I regret it happened, but it wasn't no harmful intentions."
Strother thanked the Burke County Sheriff's Office personnel for their treatment and concern for him while he was in jail.
"Even the sheriff said that was a ridiculous bond," he said. "And I thank the citizens in my corner. All those others that have negative thoughts and negative opinions, I leave them in God's hands."
Law enforcement officials have said that if Strother had buried the dogs, there would have been no problem.
Lewis said the GBI office in Thomson will investigate.