Animal shelter volunteer speaks in operator's defense - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Animal shelter volunteer speaks in operator's defense

By Laura Ann Sills - bioemail

MERIWETHER COUNTY, GA (WTVM) -  The Department of Agriculture put the Meriwether County animal shelter under quarantine after a parvo outbreak. This is normal practice. The local sheriff's office was asked to take over the operations during the quarantine and oversee the cleaning of the shelter before the Department of Agriculture comes back to inspect in two weeks.

The operator of the shelter, Herb Bartlett, was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals as part of an on-going investigation in to the operation of the shelter by the Department of Agriculture.

[Read: Meriwether County faces puppy crisis]

Gail Coffee and other volunteers at the shelter believe everything moved too quickly.  "I think that someone rushed in very quickly to take over what they saw as perhaps a very bad situation. And, I can understand that there is not one perfect organization," said Coffee.

Meriwether County Sheriff Steve Whitlock maintains the fact that the Department of Agriculture asked him to join the investigation into the practices at the animal shelter and it was not the other way around.

He says his department has received complaints about the animal shelter and the state contacted the county of a problem in September 2010.

Coffee says she spent 2-3 days a week volunteering at the shelter.  When News Leader Nine referenced pictures of the shelter's office space with feces on floor and the fact that officials used the term "filth" she had this to say, "I will admit that when you first walk in the morning, it is not clean. My barn is not clean when I first go in my barn in the morning I am horrified, but I get busy."

The Department of Agriculture will re-inspect the shelter on June 21st.  At that time it will be determined if the animals are able to be adopted out.

Stay with News Leader Nine for this developing story.

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