JONESBORO, Ga. — A nonprofit claimed at a Clayton County Animal Control Board meeting that four healthy dogs between nine months and two years old were put down last Friday while they were trying to find foster homes for them.
Following days of heated rhetoric online, advocates and founder of Partner for Pets Maria Dorough showed up to the meeting on Wednesday to voice their concerns. The nonprofit organization funds adoptions at Clayton County Animal Control and helps place animals in rescues.
"These dogs didn’t have to die," an advocate of Partners for Pets was heard saying at a meeting in Clayton County Police Department headquarters.
Animal control said deciding if and when to euthanize an animal is complicated and is not taken lightly. Dorough said an email from her organization was sent on Thursday, informing animal control that they were still working on getting the dogs. She called back Friday morning to say there were trying to move dogs around.
“I got a call back saying, ‘The dogs have been put down, but the captain says you can have the other two that are at headquarters,'” Dorough said.
The news also upset Lisa Fleming, the president of Courtney's K9 Care.
“I’m angry. Four dogs under the age of two were just euthanized," Fleming said. "I, along with many Georgia rescues, try to work and find homes for these animals.”
Cupid, Luigi, Mae and Little Girl are the four dogs put down. This decision sparked the outrage that was brought to the meeting.
“Unfortunately, with the urgent list, the urgent list deadline is Thursday at 1 o’clock," Captain Jodi Turnipseed with Clayton County Animal Control said. "We did look at 1 o’clock on Friday. Normally, we do work with them."
Dorough said there could have been more flexibility.
“We could have gotten all those dogs out by 5 Friday afternoon, but she was just not being realistic," Dorough said.
Turnipseed said they always have to have space for any possible incoming animals.
“We looked online and saw they didn’t have the funding, the full funding on the animals, so at that point, having space issues, unfortunately, sometimes it’s necessary," Turnipseed said.
Those with Partners for Pets still think about the four dogs they tried to give a second chance at life.
“We all cried. Everybody cried," Dorough said. "In fact, one of our biggest supporters who donates weekly called the shelter herself and begged them not to put any dogs down -- and they just ignored it.”
Turnipseed the decision wasn't as heartless as others make it sound.
“Having to make that decision," Turnipseed said. "I have three shelter dogs myself that I’ve rescued and adopted from our own facility, so it’s not something that we make lightly."
A possible solution brought up at the meeting includes a spay and neuter ordinance in hopes of lowering the population of unhoused pets. That idea would have to go before Clayton County Commissioners.
Animal control would also like to start a vaccine and microchipping clinic for the public.
Another issue brought up in the meeting are the many dogs stuck at animal control due to kennel cough. Turnipseed said, unfortunately, the respiratory infection is easily spread, especially in an open-air building, which the Jonesboro facility is.
Those at the meeting questioned why volunteers aren't allowed at animal control.
"Clayton County Animal Control utilizes inmate workers seven days a week to assist with the daily cleaning and function of both facilities," Turnipseed said. "Due to liability issues, no civilian contact can occur with inmate workers."
Clayton County Animal Control posts 20 urgent dogs at risk for euthanization weekly. People can view the list on their Facebook page.