Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gwinnett AAC Meeting - April 21st - Dog Barking & Tethering Ordinance

The Gwinnett Animal Advisory Council will be meeting April 21st (Tuesday) at 7:00 PM to discuss proposed changes in the county animal ordinance that addresses tethering and nuisance "dog barking". The meeting will be held at the Gwinnett Animal Shelter located at 884 Winder Hwy in Lawrenceville. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

The agenda is available at the following link:

A group of concerned pet owners (We the Pet Owners of Gwinnett) offer the following revisions for discussion. Both changes would be enforced as "civil" violations rather then the current practice of being handled as criminal violations. The purpose of the revised law would be to seek compliance through a system of warnings and escalating fines while removing all sentencing provisions which include jail/probation and court ordered loss of pets.

We propose the following:

Changes in restraint/tethering language:

Section 10-29 (b-4) Effective it will be unlawful to tether (chain) your pet unless you are present. Supervised tethering is limited to no more then one hour on/one hour off during daylight hours or thirty minutes during evening hours. In the event a pet is illegally tethered (chained), the pet owner will receive a warning. Failure to take corrective action will result in a civil penalty for cruelty of $100 and a $500 civil penalty for additional offenses.

Changes in public nuisance barking language

Section 10-51 (b) ?? Anyone who keeps or maintains an animal that unreasonably disturbs the comfort or repose of any of any person which are plainly audible to a person of normal hearing ability not located on the same property of the animal or animals because the animal is emitting frequent or long continued sound or noise during the hours of 9:00 PM and 7:00 AM shall be deemed in violation of this section when.

(1) It shall be unlawful for any animal to make, continue or cause to be made or continued any loud, unnecessary or unusual sound or noise which unreasonably annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of others in the county, and which is audible to a person of normal hearing ability more than 50 feet from the property of origin of this sound or noise.

(2) That the person keeping or maintaining the animal has been first notified in writing by certified mail, return receipt requested, by the complaining party that this animal bird being kept by the addressee is unreasonably disturbing his or her comfort or repose. This section shall be liberally construed to accomplish the objective of the section, and the person making this written notification need not use the exact words of this section to the addressee so long as the notification sufficiently informs the addressee of the nature and times of the disturbing noise emitted by the animal.

(3) Upon receipt of a certified letter notifying the person keeping or maintaining such animal, such person shall be required to comply with this section within 72 hours of such notification.

(4) Upon notification of failure to comply with certified notification of noise complaint concerning such animal noise violations, the owner or individual in possession of the property upon which the animal or animals are located will be given a written notice/warning from Animal Control Unit indicating that such animal or animals are creating a disturbance and advising the owner or individual in possession of the property of some possible solutions to rectify the nuisance. The complainant must provide the officer with a copy of the certified letter sent out that includes the address and where the animals are located along with the time(s) of the offense before any written warning/notice shall be issued.. The owner or individual in possession of the property shall then have ten (10) days to resolve the disturbance.

(5) If the disturbance is not resolved within ten (10) days and the Animal Control Unit receives a second complaint from the original complainant, he or she will be asked to provide a sworn statement documenting the violations. The original complainant will also be required to obtain a sworn statement from another individual of the disturbance. The statements must be from individuals residing at different addresses located near and within hearing distance of the animal or animals creating the disturbance. Upon receipt of the sworn statements, the Animal Control Unit may issue a citation in accordance with the requirements of this ordinance.

(6) Or if the disturbance is not resolved within ten (10) days and the Animal Control Unit receives another complaint from another individual residing at a different address located near and within normal hearing distance of the animal or animals creating the disturbance, both complainants will be asked to provide a sworn statement provided the second complainant has complied with sending a certified letter notifying the person keeping or maintaining such animal. Upon receipt of the sworn statements, the Animal Control Unit may issue a citation in accordance with the requirements of this ordinance.

(7) Animal control officers investigating and enforcing this subsection are not required to measure the noise levels with use of a sound level meter.

(8) The original complaint will remain on file and active for a period of sixty (60) days following the ten (10) day resolution period. If no further complaints are made during the sixty (60) day period, the complaint shall expire and the process begin again.

(9) Upon issuance of a citation, the Animal Control Unit may refer the complainant(s) and the owner or individual in possession of the property upon which the animal or animals creating the disturbance are located to private mediation in an effort to resolve their dispute.

(10) Further complaints or failure to comply with mediation recommendations will result in a citation being issued for owner or individual in possession upon which the animal or animals creating the disturbance to appear in court.

(11) Animal noise complaint will be limited to ONE citation being issued. Penalties for violations under this section 10-27 would be fines of up to $250 for first conviction and up to $500 for any further conviction. Court could order removal of any animal or animals found guilty of a second violation.


These changes are needed to shift the focus to using an educational approach in helping pet owners understand the requirements of being responsible pet owners in the community. Enforcement is shifted to focusing on animal issues that clearly present a danger or adds significantly to the cost of administering animal control. If implemented there will also be a significant reduction in case load through the courts and a reduction in adjudication costs as well.

Rather then tossing a net over all pet owners these changes would focus on enforcing and punishing irresponsible pet owners in the county. Ultimately, the goal of any proactive animal ordinance should seek to reduce the number of pets that enter our shelter and not add to those intake numbers.

Your comments, of course are welcome.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Georgia Animal Control Association lack of unified opposition to gassing

The Georgia Animal Control Association was founded in June of 1987 by concerned Animal Control Personnel from across the state of Georgia. The sole purpose was to form an organization in which animal control personnel - whether management, shelter worker, or field worker - would have a support system, informational center and training agency to address related needs of Georgia's animal control agencies.

Historically, the Georgia Animal Control Association (GACA) has been filled with shelter's that are opposed to or have poor partnerships with the rescue community, fail to implement offsite adoptions, enforce failed pet limit laws, lack any meaningful free or low cost spay/neuter programs and appear to be completely unaware of the other innovative programs which have proven to cause a decline in killing. The blind follows the blind down a path of control that knows only how to kill.

Animal shelter reform isn't only about how shelter's kill off society's homeless pets but why we can't seek out the alternatives.

Killing our companion animals is preventable, killing is a tragedy and there is still too much of it going on in Georgia's Animal Shelters. How we reduce that killing from it's current levels and make sure that any killing is done in a humane and compassionate manner is nothing less than a dishonest and disgraceful writing of our animal welfare history.

Georgia Animal Control Association Mission

Stopping the senseless slaughter in our animal shelters starts with leadership. Leadership in our animal control industry that is sourly lacking. The leaders of the "animal control industry" have to provide the leadership to give shelters and their communities the tools they need to succeed. Instead, all they promote is an enforcement mentality that blames the public for the killing rather then address the root causes that feed the killing frenzy.

Policy that focuses on a "legislation, education, and sterilization” (LES) mandate that blames the public for the mass and senseless killing rather then taking the lead to prevent it.

LES remains nothing but a failure.

First, LES DOES NOT put any responsibility onto the shelters that are actually doing the killing, nor does it question if a shelter’s own actions are causing increases in shelter death rates (as indeed many are).

Second, it takes the onus off of poorly performing shelters by blaming the public for shelter failures that are themselves animal cruelty centers.

Third, it does not question the perceived need to kill.

Fourth, the "plan" focuses only on how efficient and cost effective that killing can be rather then on focusing on preventative programs that have demonstrated success in stopping it.

Finally, it promotes punitive legislation—such as cat licensing, leash laws, limit laws and mandatory spay/neuter, nuisance animals on threat of citation and impound—which not only diverts resources away from lifesaving programs to bureaucratic enforcement, but leads to increases in killing in those very same shelters which the laws are passed.

Georgia Animal Shelters - A State of Crisis Control

The need for a clearing house of progressive information is critical. Many of Georgia's animal shelters in a state of absolute disarray. They operate under sub-standard conditions and lack a unified plan for reducing high kill rates. The foundation of a unified plan is the formation of a partnership between the animal shelter and the rescue community. Working as partners, they can successfully build a more humane shelter system that both minimizes companion animal deaths and insures a truly humane euthanasia when there are no other options.

There simply is no acceptable explanation why, despite overwhelming public opposition to gassing shelter pets, a few facilities in Georgia persist in ending pets’ lives in torturous, inhumane, outmoded, unregulated and unsafe gas chambers. Instead of addressing the abuses that gassing includes we are left with lifetime of excuses why gassing must continue.

House Bill 606 and its Senate counterpart, SB 232, would have closed the loopholes that allow several Georgia counties and cities to continue using animal gas chambers. Had they passed, humane lethal injection or oral ingestion of sodium pentobarbital would have been the only method of euthanasia allowed statewide. The bills also would have prohibited the cruel method of heartstick except on unconscious or comatose animals in certain situations.

Yet, the Georgia Animal Control Association (GACA) failed miserably to "unify” in support of bringing all shelters into compliance with citizens’ wishes. Since the vast majority of previously gassing animal shelters in Georgia have ceased the practice, there simply is no good reason for the remaining gassing shelters to cling to this barbaric method of killing animals.

There is clear evidence that shelters still using the gas chamber do so without proof of exception. Worse yet, they offer no excuses for operating illegally and do so with an air of arrogance. Worst of all, their illegal actions are protected by the very state agency charged with the responsibility of “Animal Protection”. All of these factors raise serious quality of care issues in gassing shelters and indicate a gross lack of compassion for the suffering of animals entrusted to their care.

Killing by gas is not only wrong, it is a state-sanctioned act of animal cruelty committed on an innocent, sentient being who deserves much better.

Meet the Georgia Animal Control Association's
Board of Directors

President - Tommy Condrey from Metter County email:

Vice President - Regina Wells - Tift County, Tifton:

Secretary/Treasurer - Cindy Weimann - City of Madison Animal Control:

District 1 - Past President Glenda Ott - Cobb County, Marietta: Cobb County is in violation of the court order for illegally installing a gas chamber in 1995.

District 2 - Past President Bobby King - Toccoa/Stephens County. Officer Bobby King recently won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Animal Control Association despite Toccoa/Stephens being one of the few shelters that still allows shelter dogs to be sent out to research. Phone 706) 282-3275

District 2 - Steven Eades - Barrow County - Phone 770) 307-3012

District 3 - Robert Ellington - Thomaston Police Department:

District 3 - Henry Freeman - Cowetta County, Newnan Phone 770-254-3736

District 4 - Christine Tillman - Putnam County, Eatonton

District 5 - Connie Easn Collins - Evans County, Claxton

District 5 - George Smith - SCMPD Animal Control, Savannah Phone 912-652-6575

District 6 - Rebecca Bruner - Tift County, Tifton

District 7 - Oscar Hulett - Jeff Davis County, Hazelhurst

Conference Classes: Georgia Animal Control Association

On March 5th and 6th 2009, GACA sponsored a workshop on "Animals and the Law". The course outline focused on enforcing animal cruelty laws, but there was an obvious disconnect regarding gassing shelters who are in effect committing egregious acts of animal cruelty.

Key speakers for the workshop included persons in leadership positions with the Department of Agriculture and/or members of the Department’s "Companion Animal Advisory Board". These speakers were well-positioned to garner support for legislation aimed at ending this inhumane method of killing in our state's shelters, yet they failed miserably to do so.

Companion Animal Rights Movement - lack of action - lack of a unified plan

One keynote speaker who missed a golden opportunity to encourage support for banning gas chambers was Claudine Wilkins, a founder of Georgia Legal Professionals for Animals (GLPA) and who represents Best Friends "No More Homeless Pets" in Georgia.

The web site for GLPA states their opposition to gas chambers and although Ms. Wilkins does not represent GLPA, as an attorney, she would have been more qualified than most speakers to address some of the language issues of HB 606 and SB 232 that were raised by animal control personnel in attendance. Furthermore, these issues should have been discussed and resolved during her actual presentation.

On the second day of the workshop, Cheryl McAuliffe, Georgia Director of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), delivered an update on current animal legislation pending in both the House and the Senate. Again, pulling the plug on all gas chambers in Georgia shelters should have been the centerpiece for discussion by HSUS and - yet, the GACA still failed to come to an agreement supporting these critical bills. This writer suggests that it is this failure that all but sealed HB 606 and SB 232 to be declared "dead on arrival" only days later.

Carolyn Danese, President of the Humane Association of Georgia (HAGA), was the next speaker and she too covered state legislative initiatives. It is unconscionable that HAGA would take a neutral position on such critical legislation that would effectively put an end to this cruel method of killing our state's animals.

The third and final speaker of day two's seminar was none other then the head of Animal Protection in Georgia - the Department of Ag's Mary Greene. Not only has the Department of Ag thumbed their noses to the will of the people but they are in violation of a court order that requires them to enforce the laws concerning licensing and inspections of some of the most egregious gas chambers that are STILL killing our innocent homeless pets.

If we can not count on the leadership of groups like the Humane Society of the United States, the Georgia Legal Professionals for Animals, the Humane Association of Georgia and the Georgia Animal Control Association to UNIFY against ALL forms of animal cruelty, especially when those acts are being conducted in publicly funded shelters, with a "wink" of protectionist approval from the Department of Agriculure's "Animal Protection Division", then we have a much bigger problem in protecting ALL of our sentinel beings as opposed to just those were it is convenient in doing so.

An act of animal cruelty committed by the public is no different when committed by a thoughtless shelter policy that ignores the pain and suffering these creatures endure only to be discarded in the nearest landfill. Some might suggest the later is more egregious since it is conducted by those who take an oath to uphold ALL the laws that protect animals from this suffering.

We can not effectively adopt our way out of a killing mentality without a formidable plan. This plan will require more people willing to adopt from a shelter. To be successful a comprehensive adoption program includes public access hours (in the evening and on weekends) when working people and families with children, our most sought after adopter demographics, can visit the shelter. To truly be effective shelters must be transformed from "killing centers" to pet friendly shelters that the public feels comfortable in visiting.

The public WILL NOT visit and adopt from shelters in the numbers necessary to save rather then destroy adoptable pets IF they are gassing shelters. The public simply lacks the stomach needed to condone this act of cruelty under the excuses that allow it to continue.

Lowering the slaughter numbers requires shelters that organize offsite adoption locations in their communities. Locations where people live, work, and play, not the county landfill where they dump their garbage. Not the county detention center where they house sex offenders.

Many of Georgia's animal shelters are located in these remote "dual function" locations and thus effectively kill off any adoption prospects that might be possible.

Building an adoption program in the community good responsive customer service; fair, but not overly bureaucratic, adoption screening; clean facilities; a good socialization and care program so that animals are happy and healthy, and more. When all these programs are comprehensively and rigorously in place, the shelter makes it easy to do the right thing, and experience has shown that the public does.

Only then can the advertising campaign leverage people’s love of animals, and their desire to bring about an end to the killing, an end to the gassing to its full potential.

Here is a list of counties or cities still using the outmoded gas chamber in Georgia. If most Georgia counties and cities can use EBI, why can't they all? An attached study based on North Carolina shelters proves EBI is less expensive and also doesn't carry the risk of danger to workers. So why keep costly gas chambers?

1. Ashburn, City of (in Turner County; no county facility; chamber housed in City of Ashburn.)
2. Barnesville, (City of) Animal Shelter (In Lamar County; no county facility; chamber housed in City of Barnesville.)
3. Butts County Animal Control
4. Cordele, City of (In Crisp County)
5. Cuthbert, City of (In Randolph County; no county facility; chamber housed in City of Cuthbert.)
6. Haralson County Animal Shelter
7. Hawkinsville, City of (In Pulaski County; no county facility.
8. Henry County Animal Control
9. Lakeland, City of (In Lanier County; no county facility.)
10. Macon, City of (In Bibb County; no county facility; chamber operated in City of Macon, under the jurisdiction of Macon Police Animal Control. Macon City Council voted unanimously June 2008 to cease using chamber by July 1, 2009.)
11. Mitchell County Animal Control
12. Spalding County Animal Shelter
13. Vienna, City of Animal Shelter (in Dooly County; no county facility)
14. Warner Robins (In Houston County; no county facility)

UNITED FOR PROGRESS" is a prophetic overview of what can and will be when all Animal Control/Animal Care Personnel come together in one mind and one accord to become professionals in this vocation.

To visit GACA's web site:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Georgia Department of Ag - Companion Animal Advisory Board

The bill, H.B. 606 and it's Senate counterpart SB 232, would have shut the loopholes that allow several Georgia counties and cities to continue to use animal gas chambers. The bill would also have prohibited heartstick except on unconscious or comatose animals in certain situations and mandate humane lethal injection or oral ingestion of sodium pentobarbital as the only means of euthanasia allowed throughout the state of Georgia.

The Georgia House Livestock, Poultry and Aquaculture Subcommittee and Senate Agriculture Committee, both heard testimony on HB 606 and SB 232 respectively with no vote taken by either committee, meaning the bill remains pending and will be taken up next year.

Attorneys Rebecca Guinn, Director of Lifeline Animal Project, and Steve Shi, as well as veterinarian Dr. Will Mangham, testified in support of the bill. Linda Cordry, an animal control officer from Liberty County and Rabbi Schlesinger from Macon, also urged passage of the bill.

Cindy Wiemann, representing the GA Animal Control Association, did not oppose the bill but whose group took a neutral position on the bill and asked for an exception that would allow the immediate euthanasia in an emergency of a dangerous or diseased animal or one suffering irremediably. Sponsors were prepared to offer such an amendment.

Senate Committee Chairperson Sen. John Bulloch and House Subcommittee Chairperson Rep. Gene Maddox decided not to allow a vote. The bills were only recently introduced and more time is needed to persuade legislators and obtain important cost information.

For all practical purposes both bills were "Dead on Arrival" because they lacked the support of Tommy Irvin's Animal Protection Unit which would be charged with enforcing the new proposals. Too much emphasis has been placed on a top down approach in lobbying support for passage of anti-gassing legislation without understanding the concepts of developing a "groundswell" of support from the bottom up.

Breakthrough thinking that moves away from a trickle down approach to solving our animal shelter reform issues by attacking from the top needs to shift to a lobbying effort that brings support to change from the bottom up. Those on the top levels of the animal shelter pyramid are not as likely to relinquish the power and control that the status quo offers. Animal advocates need to change the thinking of advocates "in the trenches" which prevent breakthrough thinking from succeeding. That effort must come from the bottom up.

Tommy Irvins "Companion Animal Advisory Board"

One such group that continues to impede passage of the much needed anti-gassing legislation is Tommy Irvin's own "Companion Animal Advisory Board" - read on....

The Companion Animal Advisory Board of the Georgia Department of Agriculture was established by Commissioner Tommy Irvin on March 25, 1997. Irvin created the advisory board because the "companion animal industry had experienced phenomenal growth over the years that makes a tremendous impact on the economy of Georgia.” That statement alone is a telling story as to why the Department of Agriculture under Irvin's helm has such a dismal record on animal protection issues including cracking down on substandard breeders and pet stores with a history of complaints and has allowed many of the county animal shelters to use the horrible abusive gas chambers in killing off "excess" pets.

A pair of bills that would have outlawed the gas chamber for stray animals won’t be going anywhere this year. House Bill 606 and Senate Bill 232 would both outlaw the practice, which is currently used in Macon, statewide. Advocates say it's inhumane, that animals suffer when Carbon Monoxide is used to gas them, and that sometimes they don't even die. They would prefer lethal injections, but that can be more expensive, since doses have to be administered one at a time. However, there is empirical data that prove EBI is less expensive to administer than properly operated gas chambers.

From a technical standpoint, House bill 606 did not die in committee, but committee's failure to allow an honest hearing, allow for debate on the issues outlawing gassing and call for a vote killed the chances of closing gas chambers by traditional legislative process for but another year. In reality, this bill was "dead on arrival" because of the lack of support from Georgia's Department of Agriculture's Animal Advisory Board (AAB) and indirectly from a neutral position taken by the Georgia Animal Control Association.

True Animal Advocates don't let friends gas our pets.....

"These animals howl, they scream, they cough, they scratch to try to get out," said Linda Cordry, of Liberty County. One dog that survived the process in Liberty County came out "alive, covered in (vomit), fecal matter and urine," she said.

LInda's right, gassing an innocent dog or cat is a horrible method to end its life, but unfortunately Linda would never be considered for a position on Irvin's AAB. To be nominated for one of those prestigious positions, you have to be invited. Who does the inviting? Well, Tommy of course. Those who may enter this "political arena" with ideals of "advocating for animals" quickly learn that to stay in this exclusive club you must be willing to "adapt" to the reason the AAB was created - that reason is to support the phenomenal growth of the companion animal industry.

Meet the Board of OUR Department of Agriculture's Animal Advisory Board

All of the information I am about to release was obtained through an open records request with the Department of Agriculture's Animal Protection unit. It is NOT available in any transparent form, including meeting dates, times and location, on the Department of Agriculture's website. Since this information is considered public record I will share it, along with my personal comments based on the investigation I completed.

From the bylaws of the AAB, all twenty members are appointed by Commissioner Irvin. All board members serve "at the pleasure of the commissioner" and may be reappointed annually. This single line clearly illustrates why any opposition to Irvin would have a detrimental effect on remaining on the board.

Make up of the Companion Animal Advisory Board

My investigation thus far has only uncovered background information on eighteen of the twenty members. They are (along with email addresses):

Ruth Tracy-Blackburn - Chairperson - Ruth is a successful business woman running her grandfather’s pecan business (hence a long time friend of Tommy Irvin) and has a passion for advocating for animals.

Animal activist Ruth Tracy-Blackburn claims "animal control officers are unsung heroes" and yet remains silent on the issue of allowing shelter employees to continue gassing. Compassionate animal control officers know firsthand the suffering animals endure in gassing shelters. “Richmond and Columbia counties are so fortunate to have animal control facilities. People can sit there and criticize them all day long, but it's the people's fault the animals are out there,'' said Ms. Blackburn, Vice-President of McDuffie County Friends of Animals.

E-mail Ruth at and ask her to tell her friend Tommy Irvin that "friends of animals don't let heroes in animal control gas innocent companion animals.

Bill Garrett has been a long time member of the AAB with a tenure that pre-dates his role in running the Fulton County Slaughterhouse. Garrett is the past President of the Atlanta Humane Society and Society For Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals, Inc. Garrett is now a trustee for the Hall County Humane Society.

Atlanta Humane Society took in close to $5.9 Million dollars in donations in 2007 against $4.4 Million in operating expenses netting an astounding $1.4 Million in profits. According to Guidestar, this resulted in AHS accumulating over $30 Million in assets at the close of the year (2007). Yet, there mission statement used to drag in these donations is "To Prevent neglect, abuse, cruelty and exploitation of animals and to assure that their interests and well being are fully, effectively and humanely protected by an aware and caring society."

Shouldn't some of that donated money be used to lobby for preventing cruelty and exploitation of animals in Georgia's gassing shelters? In a caring society, don't these animals deserve the same humane protection against state sanctioned acts of cruel and abusive policies?

During the changing of the guard in Fulton County's own nightmarish rein of terror, one of the few supporters of Garrett's leadership at AHS and its role in Fulton County was Carolyn Danese, founder of the Humane Association of Georgia.

Garrett's political connections include Govenor Sonny Perdue who awarded Garrett the distinguished rank of "Colonel in the Georgia State Militia" in 2006. Email Bill at russelleva@bellsouth,com and ask him to talk with his friend Carolyn and assure her that gassing animals simply because of a shortage of euthanasia drugs ten years ago isn't a good enough reason for humane friends of animals to allow gassing to continue.

Richard Rice left his position as the Humane Society of United States Regional Director shortly after the failed Katrina Rescue Operation for his current post with the Atlanta Humane Society where he is Director of Operations. Joining Richard is Carl Leveridge who left Peggy Adams to become President of AHS. Both come from strong national animal "rights " organizations which should actively oppose gassing as a barbaric and inhumane method of ending any companion animal’s life, yet, their silence on this issue is deafening.

Email Richard at or call him at 404-974-2828 and tell him that you expect him to actively support enforcing the courts orders banning the use of gas in Georgia shelters and holding the Irvin's Department of Agriculture accountable. Remind him and Carl Leveridge that "Friends of Animals" do not donate to animal rights groups that look the other way while shelters in Georgia continue to abuse the law. Tell Richard that you expect him to fully support passage of House Bill 606 and Senate Bill 232. Carl can be contacted by email at or call 404-974-2888.

Edwina Barnes is listed President and founder for the Humane Association of Georgia and yet, Carolyn Danese is also claims to be President and founder of HAGA. Humane Association of Georgia, Inc., is a nonprofit organization advocating humane treatment for all living things.

From to the HAGA website "We encourage strong legislation for animals at all levels of government. We encourage and support cooperation among the animal protection community, the veterinary community, government agencies and the general public."

When the Board of the Humane Association of Georgia (HAGA) was asked to discuss gas chambers, Carolyn Danese wrote in a "white paper" on gassing , "We prefer to focus on decreasing the number of animals killed." Much of that focus is on seeking donations and participating in the state's funds generated from spay/neuter speciality tag.

Yet, when given the opportunity to support a state wide ban on gassing animals HAGA seems only concerned about not running out of "blue juice".

Danese explains, "No matter which method is used, strict protocol should be followed. Indeed, there is the possibility of cruelty charges for noncompliance. Discussions are starting in other states and countries to make the killing of animals by animal control, under any circumstances, cruelty.”

There are human considerations as well. Killing animals by any means causes stress and depression among animal control staff, contributing to high turnover. Animal control professionals tasked with killing these excess animals daily may need alternatives for mental health purposes. What some people observe as laziness in animal control may be a manifestation of depression. The ability to comfort an animal during lethal injection is less stressful to some, where others feel more stressed having to use a needle. Vocalization disturbs professionals and volunteers alike, although vocalization and dog paddling may be exhibited using either method, or simply when coming out of anesthesia, and are not always tied to pain, so training may reduce stress.

The HAGA position on gassing suggests that the per-animal costs of either method are comparable over time. Efforts to mandate more inspections, accurate statistics and greater control of existing gas chambers would be difficult considering the Georgia Department of Agriculture's Animal Protection Division's annual budget is only approximately $1 million for this overworked statewide division that is under a hiring freeze.

You can contact Carolyn Danese at . Edwina Barnes can be reached at . Tell them that "humane friends of animals believe EACH and EVERY companion animal’s life is scared and deserves respect, especially when society "chooses" to end that pet’s life.” Her position on gas chambers is out of touch with those shared by animal advocates throughout the state. WE expect their role is to advocate for companion animals and not to be an excuse maker for Irvin's Department of Agriculture.

Gail Laberge holds a number of titles. Gail is the founder and president of the Georgia Canine Coalition (GCC), on the Board of Directors of the American Kennel Club as the legislative liaison, Chair for Gwinnett County's Animal Advisory Council and past president for the Lawrenceville Kennel Club. The Georgia Canine Coalition mission is to support fair legislation governing animal abuse and neglect, yet, in theory the very kennel groups that the AKC, kennel clubs and breeders represent compete directly with "used/defective" shelters dogs in the marketplace.

The Georgia Canine Coalition has no interest in increasing "market share" for "used/defective" shelter dogs at the expense of those seeking to market puppies - how the shelters kill off the excess is of little consequence.

"A 'legislative superstar,' Gail has spent years working with Georgia officials to make sure that the interests of purebred dog owners are well represented," said Noreen Baxter, AKC 's VP of Communications.

Maurice Woolfe, a breeder from Buford, is also a board member of the GCC and past member of Gwinnett's Animal Advisory Council. It is unclear what educational prospective Woolfe brings to this committee.

The Georgia Canine Coalition opposed HB1060 in 2008 because it defined a public shelter agency as “any facility operated by or under contract with the state or any political subdivision of the state for the purpose of impounding or harboring seized, stray, homeless, abandoned or unwanted animals. Such term shall include any veterinarian or veterinary clinic which operates for such purpose in addition to its customary practice.”

The GCC had serious concerns with this bill as it was written and therefore opposed it. Of course, how many veterinary clinics are there that "impound or seize stray, homeless, abandoned or unwanted animals AND own and run a gassing facility as part of its customary practice?” I suggest that the GCC's opposition is more intuned with their lack of concern over the fate of shelter dogs in general. You can email Gail at , Maurice Woolfe has no contact information.

Bonnie Turner is listed as a current member of the companion animal board but a Bonnie Turner was killed in Floyd County by a tornado in 2008. In 2005, Gail LaBerge of Buford , Georgia , received the AKC Community Achievement Award for her efforts defending and protecting the interests of the canine community. Bonnie Turner wrote in her nominating letter, "Gail LaBerge is a tireless and extremely effective defender of the rights of dog owners in the state of Georgia." Turner, a board member of the Georgia Canine Coalition, continued, "Her efforts have earned her the respect of local and state officials, and a reputation as an advocate for fair and reasonable legislation as it relates to the state's breeders, kennels and pet owners."

Neil Bates, Alpharetta breeder with the AKC, contact .

Mike Miller, DVM, is affiliated with the Duluth Animal Hospital. My guess is Miller, Woolfe and Laberge, all from the Buford area, are interconnected. You can write Dr. Mike and ask him to OPPOSE gassing in Georgia shelters at

Dr George McCommon, is an associate professor of veternary science and City of Macon's veternarian in charge of the Macon Shelter. He did NOT support the recently passed resolution that will end gassing in Macon in June of 2009.

His support of gassing is perplexing especially with his impressive resume that seems to support his opposition to animal cruelty.

When associate professor of veterinary science George McCommon gathered with representatives from the state's Department of Agriculture, GEMA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to mingle with extension agents and local and state politicians in the first of its kind Georgia Emergency Management Conference McCommon stated "People (and animals) are very vulnerable to any hazard — natural or man-made, when a tornado or hurricane hits, it’s imperative to maintain safe plant life, animals and food. To that end, the workshop is expected to focus on topics from media relations to animal protection."

Yet, McCommon fails to see the correlation of protecting companion animals "from the man made disaster of being slaughtered in the state's antiquated and inhumane gas chambers.

“The state of Georgia has been proactive when it comes to animal health and agriculture in general,” McCommon said. “Georgia is trying to stay ahead of the ball.”

Georgia remains one of the few states that clings to the ancient technology of primitive and non functioning gas chambers

Macon's policy of gassing animals is not the only quality of care issue that has dogged the city run shelter for years. It is disheartening to consider that despite all of McCommon's educational training he has failed to offer any suggestions that might/would improve the plight of Macon's homeless pets. It is simply not reasonable to suggest that mass killing and disposing of unwanted pets is acceptable shelter policy.

District Attorney Kim Schwartz (Bibb County) has hinted that Dr. McCommon had threatened to quit being the City of Macon's vet because of the recent attacks on the City's practices.... that he "does the job because no one else will do it" because he has a genuine interest in caring for the shelter animals. Yet, there is no evidence to support his complaints. In order for real change to happen in Macon perhaps his resignation would allow for improvement to take hold. A lack of change is manifested when good ideas are ignored but more importantly when those who settle for poor standards are allowed to fester.

McCommon's unwillingness to publicly oppose Macon's antiquated gas chamber is equally troubling as a board member of Irvins AAB. If he supports gassing in Macon, then he supports the failed policies of the department of ag in failing to enforce the law on shelters that use gas chambers.

Steve Zerelli represents the Pet Company. Is there any wonder why the Department of Agriculture allows the pet store industry to operate with little or no oversight?

In effect, Tommy Irvin's departmental policies all but support the puppy mill industry and it's tremendous growth potential. This is reflected in the dismal record that the Department of Ag has on enforcing and closing down substandard puppy mills as well. The puppy mill trade flourishes throughout the state of Georgia, in flea markets and in Nickelson type mass breeding farms. Obviously, the Pet Company could care less about gassing animals in Georgia shelters. Until the Department of Ag sets policies and enforces reasonable breeding standards killing off the excess is simply a product of theiur onw malfeasonance. Those changes won't happen on Zerelli's watch. If you’re inclined to contact Steve Zerelli, he can be reached at

Claudine Wilkins is the founder of the Georgia Legal Professionals for Animals. Georgia Legal Professionals for Animals, Inc. (GLPA) is a non-profit corporation comprised of professionals who espouse an ethical and moral precept which maintains that animals are sentient beings, with a capacity for pain and suffering and an intrinsic right to their own lives.

She is also legislative council for Best Friends, and will be one of the speakers at the No Kill Conference: Bringing Sheltering into the 21st Century, happening May 2-3 in Washington, D.C.

The No Kill Advocacy Center is teaming up with the animal law program at George Washington University Law School.

The conference features both a shelter/rescue track and a legal track, though attendees can attend workshops in both areas. “Both tracks are important”, says Claudine Wilkins, legislative council for Best Friends, who will be one of the speakers at the conference. “You have to have the public drive and awareness and the legal advancements for real change to happen for animals,” Wilkins says.

Conference workshops will cover a wide variety of current topics, including rehabilitating and adopting dogs and cats with special needs; harnessing community compassion; reforming animal control; overcoming internal obstacles to success; legislating no-kill; rethinking dangerous dogs; legislating and litigating an end to puppy mills; and protecting free-roaming cats and their caregivers. What it won't be covering is why Georgia continues to gas out of the stone age year after year.

The Georgia Legal Professionals for Animals took a position opposing gassing on their website and yet, failed to address the house committee when the gassing bill died in committee. You can e-mail Claudine at to ask her what it's going to take to get the Department of Agriculture to abide by the court ruling that upheld the ban on gassing.

Betty Crawford represents the Rescue League in Atlanta Georgia. Betty appears to be the token representative for all of Georgia's rescue groups. Her contact is

Donna Strickland, is the executive director for the Albany Humane Society. Their mission statement claims, "We speak for those who can't speak for themselves". Each year, Albany Humane responds to hundreds of requests to investigate the possible pain and unnecessary suffering of animals. Their efforts are far-reaching: dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, deer, pigs, chickens, goats, to name a few... have all received care at our shelter.

Clearly, speaking out against the horribly cruel use of gas chambers is the only hope for the thousands of voiceless pets that are killed in Georgia's gassing shelters each year. Ask Donna to speak to Tommy about putting an end to state mandated acts of animal cruelty - Georgia's shelters should be better then that. Her contact info is

Miguel Abi-Hassan, having worked in animal welfare in Venezuela, Ohio, and Florida, is the Director of Animal Control in Fayette County. His lifetime of experience with animals and degrees in animal welfare and industrial psychology are put to good use. You can reach Miguel at Ask him to use his influence to end the use of gas in Georgia shelters.

Grace Woodford runs Dog House Kennel and Grooming in Newnan. Polite e-mails to Grace can be sent to . Ask Grace to support passing HB 606 and put an end to the cruelty of killing shelter animals with gas.

Vanessa Sims-Green ( ) and Mary Greene, Animal Protection Manager ( ), are both non-voting members of Irvin's Companion Animal Advisory Board. They serve in an advisory and leadership capacity and have a voice in the deliberations, but no vote.

My investigation was unable to identify two members, a Chuck Corley ( ), and Sherrie Miller ( )- anyone with information can forward that to me.

The Companion Animal Advisory Board meets four times a year at a time and a place determined by the chair and the Animal Protection Manager. Special meetings may be requested by the chair, by a majority of the Board members, or by the department.

The next scheduled meeting is scheduled to be held on May 2nd at 1:00 PM, 19 Martin Luther King Jr Drive SW, Atlanta, Ga 3033. For further information,contact Mary Greene.

Anyone who represents an animal advocacy group and who thinks it's appropriate to let these shelters continue to gas for another year or two or more is failing to acknowledge the severity of what is wrong about gas chambers. Tommy Irvin has never directly stated his reasons for not opposing/supporting the gassing of shelter pets. After all, as a reasonable man should he not have a reason, shouldn't he?

This research builds a foundation of the interesting relationships between the anti-players who work towards blocking any attempts in changing Georgia's few remaining gassing shelters. We need to convince a majority of these players to join our side in supporting HB 606 and SB 232 in the 2010 legislative session. The bills may have been "killed" for now, but the groundswell of opposition lives on with a determined group of compassionate animal advocates that know killing innocent and defenseless homeless pets in such a cruel and in humane manner is simply not acceptable public policy.

Please explain to the animals who are being gassed this week, next week, next month, next year...who are "dead forever”, that we are working on getting the bill just right, then we'll help them.

Next, the role Georgia Animal Control Association has in keeping the status quo....

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