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I have been doing Rescue since I was 14 years old. I started with a Rescue group in Roswell, Georgia and my passion followed me to the University of Georgia and volunteering at Athens Clarke County Animal Control. In my free time, I spend countless hours working with a Rescue that I started with a family member. I have been in almost every shelter in the metro Atlanta area and I have seen the good and the bad.  I recently got married and moved to Barrow County and thought I would use my passion to help turn the Barrow County animal shelter around.  After months of frustration and now cruelty, I am convinced it is not fixable without help from the citizens and our representatives. Athens, Gwinnett and countless other shelters welcome volunteers and use them to help increase adoptions, rescues and living conditions in their shelter.  In April, Barrow announced a volunteer program was starting and what excitement I felt.  They allowed a group of volunteers to come in and work in the shelter for one day and not one day since.  They have told my volunteer group that “they are still fine tuning the program”.  I don’t see that as fine tuning.  They are very resistant to any kind of help from the public.  They act as if we are spies that want to hinder the shelter when in fact we love animals and want to work to rehabilitate and rehome the animals left to die in Barrow.  Many county animal control facilities are finding great success adopting, rescuing and finding funding for dogs on Facebook.  Private citizens have tried to do that at Barrow and have only been met with resistance.  The sign-in at Barrow states, taking photos of the dogs can create problems and "hinder any potential adoption/rescue".  In my Rescue, we have learned “a picture is worth a thousand words”.  Despite a recently renovated facility, the dogs live in runs for months without any kind of interaction.  No one is allowed to volunteer walking them.  The staff does not walk them either so they never leave the runs until either they're rescued/adopted or euthanized.  The pens are only cleaned once daily in the mornings.  The animals are then forced to sit in their own feces and urine for the entire day and overnight if they have to use the restroom after the pens are cleaned.  Even if a dog is sick with diarrhea or has vomited, the runs are not cleaned again.  Where is the compassion for these animals that live in these small confines for months?  The animals sit and wait for months until hopefully a Rescue or adopter comes along, which is unlikely when the shelter is constantly closed.   Barrow is not rescue or adoption friendly.  For example, they close early on a regular basis. They say they are understaffed so they have a hard time answering the phones.  Not only does that make them unavailable to rescuers and adopters but it makes them unable to respond to animal reports from the citizens of Barrow County.  I don’t know of a person willing to drive to pick up an animal that they aren’t sure if it is still available or whether the facility is open!  There are too many cooperative shelters in the area (Gwinnett for example) that Rescue organizations and adopters would rather use.  I learned how truly uncompassionate the management at Barrow is this past week, two different Rescues committed to saving a dog from there.  Despite the one Rescue emailing and calling about dog they were interested in and the other Rescue telling management their plans to rescue, the dog was euthanized on Wednesday before the Rescues could get there. The situation was discussed with the senior officer whose response was that their email had been down and he didn't know the dogs had rescue commitments.  However, he was specifically told that Rescue was coming for the dog.  If management cared about any of the animals under their care how could they euthanize an animal that they KNEW had a Rescue coming for her?   I will close with a story from a Barrow County Elementary employee about an animal control report for a dog that was loose.  The animal was contained by a teacher with her students until animal control could respond to the report.  A Senior Officer was the responding officer.  He leashed up the animal and was introduced to the students by a teacher.  He chose not to address the students which could have been used as a learning experience for future tax payers and animal adopters.  Instead, he portrayed the stereotypical image of the menacing animal control officer.  He had an opportunity to address people in his community and promote a positive image for animal control but chose to ignore it.  Barrow will continue to senselessly kill animals in high numbers unless they hire and educate their officers on how to increase adoptions and rescues.  If Barrow doesn’t have the funds, train volunteers to work with Rescues to achieve this goal; other county run shelters allow this.  Gwinnett has a prisoner program that allows prisoners to rehabilitate some of their dogs.  I have seen changes in shelters in which the euthanasia rate went from ninety percent to less than twenty percent this is my dream for the county in which I live.  

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