Appling animal shelter ordered to close

 

Columbia County’s largest private animal rescue group is being shut down after the Georgia Department of Agriculture revoked its operating license.

Happy Tails Rescue, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, has until late March to find homes for the 38 dogs housed at the rescue’s Appling facility, said Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Mary Katherin Yearta.

“We issued a stop order to them, and right now they have 30 days to find homes for the animals,” Yearta said. “The case is still open, and we are still in the process of working with them.”

The action resulted from violations Happy Tails failed to correct, Yearta said.

“It’s like a witch hunt,” contended Barbara Gleitsmann, who operates Happy Tails
adjacent to her home. “They are just relentless.”

Agriculture inspectors have been visiting the property since last summer, alleging different minor violations each time, she said.

“Every time they come around, they find something else,” Gleitsmann said, including complaining about cobwebs, rust on cages and improper lighting.

She insisted that none of the allegations involved treatment of the animals at the shelter.

Yearta said she couldn’t discuss the findings while the case is under review.

“If you came to my house right now, you would see the condition of every dog on the property, and there’s not one of them that does not look better, if not significantly better, than when we got them,” Gleitsmann said, “and many of them are from tax-supported shelters.”

From 2008 through 2011, Gleitsmann said, Columbia County Animal Services released 1,389 animals to rescue groups.

“Happy Tails took 961 of those,” she said.

She’s not sure what will happen to any dogs that aren’t adopted by the deadline, and Yearta said she isn’t, either.

The group is adopting animals out of its Appling facility and is holding adoptions Saturday during the flea market at Lewis Memorial United Methodist Church in Evans and Sunday, at Ridge Road Cafe, 6539 Washington Road in Appling.

“We need help,” Gleits­mann said. “It’s a tough situation.”

PET ADOPTIONS

Happy Tails Rescue will have pets available for adoption at the following locations. Call (706) 955-0438 for more information.

• 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Spring Fling Flea Market and Craft Fair, Lewis Memorial United Methodist Church

• 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Ridge Road Cafe, 6539 Washington Road, Appling

• 4:30-7 p.m. March 7, Evans Towne Farmers Market at the Columbia County Library.

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