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Animal group seeks county's help
When Lisa Tripp found Sparky along Jesse's Trail in Waynesville, he was a significantly underweight, sunburned and blistered dog lying next to the corpse of another canine.

Tripp knew the 4-month-old dog needed a home, so she adopted him.

Even though Sparky's life turned for the better, Lois Vassilion, president of the Brantley County Animal Coalition, says most dogs left on the side of a road in Brantley County meet the fate of Sparky's companion, either dead by starvation, a bullet or being hit by a vehicle.

"It's hard to drive through the county and not see a dog on the side of the road starving," Vassilion said.

The stray dogs are a result of owners who don't take proper care of their pets. An abundance of breeding animals results in unwanted litters, and those litters are usually left on the road shoulders, Vassilion said.

With no animal control services in the county, except for a dog control officer who works under contract to handle vicious dog attacks, Brantley County Animal Coalition, a nonprofit organization that oversees 18 foster homes for abandon pets, and concerned citizens, such as Tripp, are asking county officials to help with the situation.

"We can't take them all in because we don't have the resources," said Vassilion, whose foster homes are filled.

County Manager Carl Rowland has scheduled a public meeting at 7:15 p.m. today at Nahunta United Methodist Church, 107 East Cleveland St., Nahunta, to discuss possible solutions to the ongoing problem.

"I told them I'll listen to their concerns and present it to the board of commissioners," Rowland said.

Getting any type of animal control services for the county, however, will be very difficult with no surplus in the county's $11.5 million operating budget, Rowland said.

When Rowland worked for Decatur County, in southwest Georgia, officials created a small animal services operation that cost $100,000. To handle the situation in Brantley County, Rowland estimates it could cost $250,000.

However, while some citizens are asking for some type of animal control agency, all Vassilion wants is for the county to educate pet owners on how to take care of their dogs.

"All I'm suggesting is that they put the message out to the public that they need to be responsible," Vassilion said. "You need to change people's attitude."

When people no longer want their dogs, they either leave them in the street or say, "take my dog off," a common phrase when someone is going to shoot a pet, Vassilion said.

Rowland agrees there needs to be an educational program for citizens on how to treat their animals.

Everything discussed at the meeting today will be presented to county commissioners at a non-voting meeting Aug. 6 or the regular commission meeting Aug. 8.

"It's going to have to be a joint effort (to solve the problem)," Rowland said.

* Reporter Martin Rand III covers local news. Contact him at, on Facebook, or at 265-8320, ext. 324.

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