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Rescue to rally day after shutdown

Posted: March 18, 2013 - 3:13pm  |  Updated: March 18, 2013 - 3:15pm
CSRA Happy Tails Rescue owner Barbara Gleitsmann holds one of the last two dogs housed at the rescue, which the state Department of Agriculture has ordered closed.  Jim Blaylock
Jim Blaylock
CSRA Happy Tails Rescue owner Barbara Gleitsmann holds one of the last two dogs housed at the rescue, which the state Department of Agriculture has ordered closed.

 


The day after Columbia County’s largest animal rescue group shut down, its supporters plan to rally in support of the organization’s mission.


Happy Tails Rescue adopted out the last of its animals Sunday evening, beating the deadline the Georgia Department of Agriculture set for the organization’s closure in an agreement with owner Barbara Gleitsmann.


“I just want to praise the community,” Gleitsmann said. “Citizens came forward, and all the dogs are safe.”


Gleitsmann agreed in February to surrender Happy Tails’ license and not reapply for a year. The order came after a series of failed inspections beginning last summer that noted problems with sanitation and documentation for animals at the facility.


The rescue received satisfactory marks for all direct animal care issues, with the final inspection agreeing that “the animals here do appear to be receiving humane care – they all have adequate food and water and shelter,” but noting that the number of animals at the facility appeared to be “excessive.”


To verify the closure, “an initial follow-up inspection will be done at the facility to ensure compliance with the consent order,” said Mark Murrah, animal protection manager for the Department of Agriculture in an email.


There also will be follow-up inspections, Murrah said, including making sure Gleitsmann’s animal boarding business on the same site – which is limited to 20 animals at a time – isn’t used to house rescues in violation of the agreement.


Tuesday’s rally, set for 5:15 p.m. outside the Evans Government Center Auditorium, precedes Gleitsmann’s scheduled presentation to the Columbia County Board of Commissioners meeting at 6 p.m. in which she said plans to highlight the rescue’s contributions to the community.


Commissioners don’t seem to understand the “depth” of that contribution, she said, which includes rescuing 961 animals from Columbia County Animal Services from January 2008 to December 2011, and equipping each Columbia County Fire Rescue station with oxygen masks for animals.


“They need to know that,” she said, expressing disappointment at what she describes as a lack of contact from commissioners since the disagreement with the Department of Agriculture began.


Columbia County Animal Services Manager Linda Glasscock said she doesn’t expect the county facility to experience any problems as a result of Happy Tails’ closure. While the shelter released significant numbers of animals free of charge to Happy Tails until December 2011, that number has dropped considerably since the county shelter moved to its new, larger location near Grovetown.


“She’s only adopted 118 in the past two years from this shelter,” Glasscock said.


“What’s happened, ever since Barbara has not been adopting from us for the last, basically, two years, is that two or three other rescues have come on board – actually, two rescues formed that are former board members of Happy Tails – and they’re taking up the slack,” Glasscock said.


The newer shelter also adopted out 100 more pets in 2012 than it did the year before, she added.


Though state inspectors said Happy Tails’ problems began with a routine re-licensing inspection last summer, Gleitsmann suspects it really started with complaints from a neighbor who moved near the Appling facility after it already was in operation. County officials acknowledge getting complaints about noise and odor regarding the rescue and boarding facility, but Gleitsmann said she was there first.


“I was responsible,” she said. “I checked the zoning before I bought the property. I didn’t set out to be a bad neighbor. I followed the rules, and I don’t think the county has been supportive. I haven’t felt any support from the county officials at all.”

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Comments (4)

Stunned 2

Thank you Ms. Gleitsmann! You are our Hero!

Thank you Ms. Gleitsmann! You are our Hero! I have 2 happy tails with me at my home tonight because of your great effort and care.Your love and devotion to homeless dogs & cats was a tremendous contribution to our community. To have such a big heart is no crime. I know that your heart is broken tonight, along with mine.

dontflyfast

Many Many thanks to Barbara Gleitsman

This is a women who has given her heart and soul to this community . The unjust treatment she has received from our local and state government is despicable! However , this won`t stop her she will keep standing up for what she believes in! We need more people like her. She is truly a diamond in the rough! God Bless her!

dontflyfast

HappyHound421

A Great Woman!

Barbara has not only been a hero to animals, she has been a hero to kids. I remember when I was a student at Brookwood.. She always made sure we were taken care of, safe, and ecknowledged. Not only then but when she started the rescue group, I was older then but still a kid. I became a young volunteer. She saw so much potential in me and she gave me hope that I wasn't just another kid, with the right guidence and care I have become the person I am today. She taught me a lot back then. I owe a lot of my skills to her. She has been the best role model I could ever ask for. Being 24 now I look back on those years and thank God everyday that she opened her heart to me as she has all those animals she has helped and other "kids" just like me.

Barbara is not a bad person, her only down fall is that there aren't more people like her to help her with her mission. It's one thing to have a heart for animals but its a totally different thing to have a heart like Barbara for animals, if there was only just a few more of her in this world then rescue groups could work together instead of having 8 different groups, and the world would be a way better place. Although I am very thankful we atleast have one Barbara, God knew what he was doing when he made her. I know her mom is very proud of her.

I hope columbia county opens their hearts realizes the good Happy Tails Rescue does and offer help not just a cold shoulder. She is only one person, taking on a big issue... one person can not do it all.

Stunned 2

Great Rally!! today!

Great Rally!! today! Lots of people and their canine happy tails showed up!

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