Juanita Wilson knows it's going to be tough: She's still not sure she can send the mixed-bred collie back to the Richmond County Animal Shelter.
"He is so sweet," said the Hephzibah resident, one of a handful of people who agreed to provide foster homes for the 16 dogs quarantined in the shelter's adoption area.
But she knows she doesn't have time. College classes - she wants to be a veterinarian - start soon.
"My schedule is really, really hectic," she said. "It would be unfair to the dog."
By noon Friday, Richmond County Animal Control Director Bonnie Bragdon had placed all 16 dogs in foster homes.
"Can you believe it?" Dr. Bragdon said Friday morning. "I'm impressed and encouraged with all the support we have received."
Under the fostering program, a home keeps one or two dogs for three weeks. After the three weeks, healthy-looking dogs will be returned to the shelter. Dogs that look sick will be tested for distemper.
If all goes well, the dogs can be adopted and the shelter will be fully reopened. It would be the first time the shelter has been fully reopened since July, when state officials closed the facility because of an outbreak of distemper.
Meanwhile, workers will spend the next few days cleaning the adoption building in preparation for Georgia Department of Agriculture Inspector Billy Carroll's visit, planned for Wednesday.
"Unless we have new outbreaks of the disease, I can't imagine he will continue the quarantine at that point," Dr. Bragdon said.
Even if Mr. Carroll gives the OK for the adoption area to reopen, it'll still be a week before any dogs go out. That gives Dr. Bragdon time to implement some new procedures.
Richmond County Animal Control will hold a volunteer meeting Oct. 14 at 10 a.m. at the shelter on Mack Lane. The meeting is open to the public, and Dr. Bragdon plans to talk about organizing a spay/neuter program and the changes made at the facility.
Mae Jackson, who already had two Boston Terriers at her National Hills home, took in two dogs: one looks like a lab, and the other is a mutt.
"I love animals, and I had not been happy when they said they had to kill so many of them," she said. "When they asked for help so they wouldn't have to kill these dogs, I felt like, as a citizen of Richmond County, I should help."
Meanwhile, the foster dogs are becoming part of the family.
"My grandchildren have had a real good time playing with them," she said. "It would be a shame to put (the dogs) to sleep, because they will give somebody a lot of pleasure."
Reach Jason B. Smith at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 115.
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