An animal rescue group ordered to close by the state is asking supporters to rally before Tuesday’s Columbia County Commission meeting.
State officials, however, say they still expect the rescue group to shut down on Monday.
Happy Tails Rescue owner Barbara Gleitsmann, who is scheduled to speak during the commission meeting, said she’s been amazed by the number of people who have come forward since the state Department of Agriculture accepted her agreement to shut down after inspectors filed repeated complaints about sanitation and bookkeeping problems at the Appling facility.
The rally is to be held in front of the Evans Government Center Auditorium at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, March 19.
Even though she signed off on the Department of Agriculture’s findings and agreed to have all animals out of the shelter by Monday, March 18, Gleitsmann said she hopes with enough support that they’ll at least get a reprieve on the deadline for closure.
However, Mary Kathryn Yearta, chief communications officer for the Department of Agriculture, said in an email message that “there is nothing in the works that would grant any changes to the consent order.”
Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross said Happy Tails has asked the commission to send a letter to the Department of Agriculture asserting that the private shelter saves the county money by taking dogs from the Columbia County Animal Services facility.
Commissioners don’t plan to do so, he said, because Happy Tails’ dispute is with the state.
Besides, he added, commissioners have heard some of the same complaints about noise and odor at the shelter, which a state inspector said had too many animals for the amount of space provided.
County staffers currently are researching an ordinance that would restrict the number of dogs or cats that could be kept on a single property, Cross said.
“I think we need that,” he said. “The number of dogs (at Happy Tails) has been the single biggest factor that has come to me.”
The number of animals at Happy Tails has been cut by about half since Gleitsmann signed the consent order agreeing to remove the rescue animals and shut down for a year, she said.