There is a quote by an unknown author that says “In a perfect world every dog would have a home and every home would have a dog.” Of course, the same can be said for cats as well. However, we do not live in a perfect world and often times our furry friends are picked up off the streets by animal control or surrendered by their owner to the local animal shelter. Even when that happens, all hope is not lost, as Upson County Animal Control Director Adrian (Corey) Releford, and his staff at the Upson County Animal Shelter work with many rescue groups to find homes for the animals. Sadly, not all of the animals put up for adoption are able to find a home in the time they are allowed to stay at the shelter.
Last week, The Thomaston Times received a message on our facebook page concerning the animal shelter. The writer alleged that Releford was repeatedly euthanizing animals that had a rescue group ready to take them. The writer also stated emails had been sent to Releford stating the intent of the rescue and that he neglected to check his email before putting the dogs down.
The Thomaston Times first spoke with County Manager Jim Wheeless to see if there were any other complaints of the same nature, to which Wheeless stated there was not.
“We have had nothing but positive comments on the animal shelter since Corey (Releford) took over in May 2014,” said Wheeless.
We also spoke with Releford on the matter. He stated he tries to keep the animals available for adoption or rescue as long as possible, often keeping them past the set available date if there is room at the shelter. However, that is not always possible, and while it is not the outcome anyone wants, some do have to be euthanized. There is just not enough space to keep them all.
“We only have 16 cages at the shelter,” said Releford in a phone interview, “and when the state comes in (to inspect) all 16 are not supposed to be full. That is so you have some room in case an animal is sick or has puppies. Just last week we had 12 dogs at the shelter at 2 p.m. and by 3:30 p.m. we had 15 more dogs come in.”
When asked about the aforementioned incident, Releford stated the shelter has had some issues lately of people claiming to be with a rescue group of which they had no documented affiliation. He gave the example that someone called and said they were rescuing a dog for Atlanta Lab Rescue, but when he checked with the organization, they had never heard of the person, nor had they set up to rescue the animals the individual mentioned. Releford stated the shelter works with many rescue groups, both in state and out of state, and that in order to make sure everything is done correctly they have had to implement new guidelines. Before a dog can be released for a rescue group, the proper paperwork has to be in place that includes information such as a copy of the license the group has with the state, a primary contact for the organization and a list of approved individuals who can come and pick the animals up.
“We try to do all we can and we want to make sure we are in compliance with everything the state says we have to be,” said Releford. “We have to have all the proper paperwork on file before we can release a dog to someone saying they are with a rescue.”
Releford added the shelter has also had the issue of someone calling or emailing to say they are coming to get a dog on Monday for example, but they don’t show. Then on Tuesday they will call and say they had car trouble, then on Wednesday there is a different excuse and they use the time to try to find a place for the dog, but no one ever comes. Forms must be filled out for both rescue and adoption and calling or emailing to say you are intending to come get the dog does not mean it is set in stone. Releford and his staff do what they can to find the animals homes, but sometimes in the time between someone seeing a particular dog and when they have all of their paperwork filled out and submitted some dogs may not be able to be kept at the shelter due to the space available.
Wheeless stated the county has received no complaints from the licensed rescue groups who are affiliated with the Upson County Animal Shelter since Releford took over the position and they are pleased with the way he has handled running the shelter.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1