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December 2, 2011 


ANIMAL OWNER SPEAKS OUT

 
Following is a letter to the editor that appeared in The Monticello News yesterday, December 1, 2011.  It concerns Jasper County’s animal control.  We have received calls and have been asked who is the animal control officer.  Kelley Bowen is the animal control officer in Jasper County.

 Beware and know your rights!

  

Dear Editor,

 
Since I have never been able to tell my side of the story, I would like to use this letter to let people know what really happened in the
animal hoarding case as the paper called it. 

 
Anyone with dogs or cats or livestock needs to know what can happen to them if the animal control officer comes to their house.

 
I have waited since August 2nd when all my animals were confiscated to find out just what laws in Jasper County I was breaking.  On November 22nd I went to the courthouse again to find out if I had been charged with anything.  Ladies in both the Magistrate
s office and in the Clerk of Courts office told me there was no case to be found, but I am now receiving threatening letters from the county attorney saying the county is going to file criminal charges against me.

 

I came home about 5PM on August 1st this year to find a Sheriff deputy and the animal control officer on my property.  I asked them how long they had been there and the animal control officer said two hours.

 

The animal control officer then demanded to be let into my house.  I refused, but she told me she could get a search warrant and if she had to do that it wouldnt be pleasant.  Why was she on my property for 2 hours without a search warrant?

 
The next day the animal control officer came back with 2 officers and stated ALL my animals were going to be removed from my property.  She also said that if an animal bit her, I would be charged, so I loaded them for her while she talked with the officers.

 
Later that day she brought a man from the Department of Agriculture back with her.  She kept wanting me to sign something to give up my rights to my animals and I would not do it.  The man from the Department of Agriculture told me that there would not be any criminal charges filed if I signed the document and I could get my dogs back. 

 

I later found out that this document was a surrender document and it said I could not take any action against any party involved regarding the final disposition of the pet(s).

 
I also realized that the animal control officer filled this form out and it states that I surrendered the animals back to myself.  I have tried to find out where my animals went or what happened to them, but no one will let me see or know anything.  Why?

 

The original document I got from the animal control officer was the Magistrate order.  It said that all my animals would be impounded by the Jasper County Animal control and remain in their custody until adjudicated by the Magistrate court.  I have waited since August 2nd til today to find out what the charges were and there are still no charges.  BUT my animals, all but 4 that I got back, were all gone from Jasper County within 3 days.  I would like to know what happened to them.

 

Of the animals confiscated, I had 4 female AKC registered pugs and 3 male AKC registered pugs.  The female pugs I got back about 2 weeks later, but I especially want to know what happened to the male pugs.  I cannot find out what happened to them or to any of the other animals taken by the animal control officer.  AKC registered pugs are valuable, and mine were loved and well taken care of.

 

On August 15th I was given a letter signed by the animal control officer telling me what I could or couldnt do and what I had to do.  This letter said I had to have my female pugs spayed.  I later found out that the animal control officer did not have the authority to make me do this when the county attorney told me in September that I did not have to have this done. 


In this letter it also says, It is understood by all parties that the County has waived criminal prosecution through the State of Georgia for the violations resulting from case #.  There is no case number entered and as of November 22nd there was no case # at all. 

 

The county attorney has written me two letters recently telling me he was going to file criminal charges against me.  Why can the county go against its own promises and conditions and why havent I been able to find out what these charges are?

 

I went to see Greg Wood, the county manager, and asked about a citation 20 days after all this started.  He told me it would be determined.  He also told me I would never be able to find out who filed a complaint against me and anything I said to him could be used against me in court.

 

On August 2nd I was told by the animal control officer if I surrendered my roosters, which I did, I could keep the chickens I had for eggs.  On August 17th a notice was left on my door by animal control stating that someone would be there that evening to take my chickens away.  She also had someone drive up in my yard a few days later and take my 14 year old neutered pot bellied pig because she said he was too fat and someone would have to monitor his food. 

 
I had 3 horses and I was made to give these up as well.  I later found out that animal control has no control over livestock and roosters, chickens, pigs and horses are considered livestock.  Is the county going to pay me for these animals that they took illegally?

 

The picture that you ran in the paper about the confiscation of my animals did not show a starving animal.  None of my animals were starved.   However, when I got my 4 female pugs back from animal control about two weeks later they had all lost weight. 

 
None of my animals were neglected because I love all of them.  They all had food, water, and shelter.  Many of these animals were strays that people had dumped and I nursed them back to health.  The dog in the picture was one that had been dumped off at my house.  I had asked a girl that worked at animal control about 2 months before this raid if I could bring the dog in and she told me they didn
t have room for it and to wait.  Soon after that the dog had 6 puppies.

 

I know my rights have been violated.  The animal control officer and deputies trespassed on my property and then threatened me if I didnt let them come into my house even though they didnt have a search warrant.

 
My animals were taken without giving me the reason why or allowing me any recourse to state my side of the story in court because a citation has never been issued.  Prior to August 1st I was never issued a warning and given a chance to correct whatever was complained about.  I lost not only the pets I loved but also my livestock. 

 
Now the county attorney is threatening me with criminal charges but I have never been told what the charges are nor given a citation.  Would Jasper County treat all their citizens this way or only the ones that have no means to fight back?

 

Thank you for letting me tell my side of this story.  I dont want people thinking that I hoarded and mistreated animals.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

  

Linda Bell

TWG
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