Strays in the county a problem, humane society overcapacity

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, January 3, 2024

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The Chattahoochee Humane Society filed a complaint against a sheriff’s deputy for allegedly forcing them to accept three owner-surrender dogs while overcapacity in December. The incident led the staff to consider euthanization for space. 

When a woman brought three stray dogs to the shelter from her LaFayette farm, staff members tried to set up an appointment for a surrender. CHS Director Amber Mingin said the shelter was so full that their policy is to accept surrenders by appointment only. 

The woman, who had a Lee County license, called the sheriff’s office and a deputy came out to insist the shelter take the dogs. 

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Chambers County Attorney Skip McCoy said the county’s contract requires the shelter to take in strays found in Chambers County. Mingin said the deputy was rude and forced them to break their protocol for animal intakes. 

“If we don’t get fosters or doctors or dogs to rescue we’re going to have to euthanize because per our contracts we have to continuously take animals,” Mingin said after the incident.

CCSO Chief Deputy Mike Parrish said there was no wrongdoing as far as he knows but that the complaint will be handled internally. 

The question, Mingin said, becomes what people are supposed to do about strays. 

“They don’t want these dogs to be out in the cold. They don’t want the dogs to be not taken care of, get hit by a car, and they can’t keep them so are they supposed just to ignore them?” Mingin said. 

When people see stray animals, they need to call the local animal control and report them. If people or shelters take a stray animal in, they’re required by state law to search for the owner for at least seven days. After that, the animal is adoptable. 

Mingin said owners surrendering animals need to follow a specific protocol before their pets can be accepted. Chambers County residents must fill out a form and wait for an appointment. When they arrive, they must provide a driver’s license with a Chambers County address. 

McCoy said the unincorporated parts of Chambers County do not have animal control so people outside city limits who find a stray animal will have to bring the animal in themselves. 

“What it boils down to is Chambers County needs — and actually all across the south — needs stronger spay and neuter laws,” Mingin said. 

However, with 16 indoor kennels and 15 outdoor kennels, the shelter is often over capacity and must make room for animals brought in by Valley, Lanett and the county animal control. Each contract allots four kennels reserved for seven days at a time. 

Chambers County doesn’t have any county ordinances about spay/neuter laws so overpopulation adds to the shelter’s kennels every year. Mingin said dogfighting and backyard breeding operations are also a problem. 

According to McCoy, the county does not have any laws that he knows of for spay/neuter requirements. While dogfighting is a criminal offense, he doesn’t know of any laws or ordinances that cover breeding in the county. 

The Chattahoochee Humane Society had 250 pet adoptions in 2023. 

“That’s 250 animals that are spayed that aren’t going to reproduce and have litters of 10 kittens or dogs,” Mingin said. “… We’re doing our part.” 

However, the humane society also had over 100 owner surrenders from Chambers County residents. That count does not include the kennels reserved by contract for Valley Animal Control, Lanett Animal Control and Chambers County.