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County shuts down CARE

Although commissioners unanimously denied a special exception request for Companion Animal Rescue and Education in Molena at their Tuesday, Aug. 28 meeting, a few members showed support for a similar type of volunteer-run animal control operation somewhere else in Pike County. The board voted to deny the special exception request, requiring the facility to immediately cease acquiring new rescue dogs and go through a phased removal of all remaining rescue dogs ‘“ there are more than 50 ‘“ by Dec. 31. ’We have a fabulous group of volunteers in the county who are dedicated to working with these animals. This commission is aware of that. We have a lot of work to do also,’ said commissioner Tamra Jarrett. ‘As good as the intent of CARE is, I wouldn’t want the noise next to me either in those close quarters. There are a lot of issues to be considered. The one we’re focused on right now is maintaining the county ordinance.’ During the open hearing, citizens for and against CARE spoke, with a total of 15 minutes allotted for both sides. CARE volunteer Kevin Botsford said the facility’s kennels are easily movable and suggested moving the animals to an area away from any homes. Gwen Roland, a CARE volunteer who fostered and adopted out 35 Pike County strays, said the warden of the new West Central Integrated Treatment Facility said there is a possibility of housing some of the dogs at the facility as part of a therapy dog training program. Commissioner Carol Bass said she would like to see volunteers who work at CARE continue to work together to take care of stray animals in the county. ’There are two issues here but right now what we have to deal with is protecting the citizens’ quality of life,’ she said. ‘I’d like to continue to see the volunteers working with the animals but I don’t think the organization can continue as it is now. We need to bring some of these other ideas to fruition and see some kind of animal control in this county.’ Several neighbors and residents who spoke against CARE said the facility is a good thing but is in the wrong place. ’What CARE is doing is great but she has no control over the dogs barking continuously and the dogs roaming the neighborhood,’ said neighbor Rick Gaddis. He said he had to put a dog down recently when he found it trying to get into his chicken coop. ’The dog was trying to get in the coop and then tried to come at me and my fiancée,’ Gaddis said. ‘All I’m asking is for some place for her to operate that’s safer than it is now.’ Others voiced concerns about the noise, liability to the county, numerous previous violations of the organization and failure to put down a dog who bit a neighbor. ’This has created a horrible nuisance. I can’t hold any family events at my property anymore because of the noise and the dogs roaming the neighborhood,’ said Lonnie Crow. ‘We’ve been waiting four years to get a say and we’ve endured this long enough.’ An attorney specializing in animal law, Betsy Choder, spoke in favor of CARE, saying Pike has a duty to provide some sort of animal control. ’This county has been talking about animal control since 2008 and needs to be further involved,’ she said. ‘There needs to be penalties for anybody dropping off animals. I’m not saying the neighbors are wrong but there’s nothing better right now to deal with feral animals or deal with animal control issues.’

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