I hope the story, Cats Cradled, in the Feb. 19 Columbia County News-Times (http://newstimesonline.com/stories/021903/new_124-2510.shtml), was not written to calm our concerns and fears of an exotic animal shelter in our community. I hope it was to alert residents to what can happen when you are not involved.
I certainly do not get warm, fuzzy feelings when I read this propaganda. I see behind the scenes to the lies and deception used to push through a process that should have been discussed in a public hearing by the Zoning Board if not the Board of Commissioners.
Where are the elected officials who are to represent and uphold the laws of Columbia County? Just when I though that there was nothing else our local agencies could screw up for the residents, along comes Tim Gress and his animal kingdom. When local officials were questioned about this situation and how this could happen, they hid behind the state thing and denied knowledge.
Gress is correct about one thing. We must educate, and to educate we must let people know just how dangerous this situation really is to the community. There is no supervision on a regular basis, and no one seems to know what nearby residents should do when there is a problem or who is responsible.
What happens when a cat is not fed and decides to venture out to find his own evening meal? A 40-pound child has no chance against a 400-pound tiger. There is a big difference in an animal shelter and caring for the earth and its natural resources. If Gress is so concerned about the earth and natural resources, what are his plans to dispose of the waste from these animals? Another agency non-involvement; maybe the Environmental Protection Agency needs to inspect his shelter plans.
At the very least, the new construction should be of interest to the licensing agencies. The plans change with each telling of the story.
This area is not zoned for business, profit or non-profit, much less for exotic animals, but Gress is licensed by the state? Where and how is he trained to operate this shelter? Who supervises the animals when he works his regular job at International Paper? Do I feel safe with him taking that tiger out on a leash and playing with it? What is going on here, and who is backing this ego trip?
There are a number of stories and lies about this operation and I for one need to know what is going on. State and county agencies are denying knowledge of this shelter in Columbia County; why? These are just a few of the questions that need answers.
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