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State orders private animal rescue to shut down

Posted: February 26, 2013 - 6:24pm  |  Updated: February 26, 2013 - 6:47pm
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 Happy Tails Rescue employee Greg McMillan gets a nuzzle from Peaches, one of the dogs the facility hopes to find a home for before they are forced to close by the Georgia Department of Agriculture.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Happy Tails Rescue employee Greg McMillan gets a nuzzle from Peaches, one of the dogs the facility hopes to find a home for before they are forced to close by the Georgia Department of Agriculture.


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 mid-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,” said Barbara Gleitsmann, who operates Happy Tails adjacent to her residence. “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 remaining dogs if all of them aren’t adopted by the deadline, and Yearta said she isn’t, either.

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



CSRA Happy Tails Rescue will have pets available for adoption during the Spring Fling Flea Market and Craft Fair at Lewis Memorial United Methodist Church, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 2; at Ridge Road Cafe, 6539 Washington Road, Appling, 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 3; and 4:30 to 7 p.m. March 7 at the Evans Towne Farmers Market at the Columbia County Library. Call (706) 955-0438.

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Comments (7)


Better than the Rules

The state inspector obviously went down their checklist of government mandated rules and reg's., unable to look beyond the "form" checklist. I am certain the inspector is a poster perfect bureaucrat. Happy Trails is a "Loving" homestyle facility operated by a couple who do so for the love of animals. Another example of government choking us with it's cancerous growth of self justification. Some money to help w/ operational expenses was not on the checlist form... surprise....suprise.



rules rules rules

Well said nellaf !



it is so sad to hear this , i

it is so sad to hear this , i hope Happy Tails Rescue renew sooner their license so that they can operate again , but they
need to address first to the violations.. puchase instagram services

John D

Animal Shelter Closing

Small business is so regulated by the gov't it forces them to pay higher wages, Social security x 2, Medicare, workers comp, insurance and so on....One way of getting away from the business entity is to make your dreams a hobby. Hobbies are not controlled by the FDA, OSHA, DEA, Dept. of Agriculture, Homeland Security, ICE, Dept. of Immigration, and Dept. of Energy. They have no say in your hobby. Hobbies are classified as a not for profit, expenses can be deducted up to the amount earned. Look into it. Get the Dept. of Agriculture off your back...
I hope all your puppies find a new home....Shame on our Gov't.
John D