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Animal control program offers 'field trips' for shelter dogs
 tcooper  / 

Starting this month, county residents can take shelter dogs on “field trips” through a new program offered by Glynn County Animal Control.

Upon completing certain requirements, residents can volunteers to “sign out” animals with them for a few hours or a few days, said Animal Control Manager Tiffani Hill. Whether taking them to the beach, on a morning jog or afternoon walk, Hill said the opportunity is healthy for both parties.

“We have been kind of beta testing it for the past six months, but it’s only been one dog here or there and only staff members doing it,” Hill said. “For years, other shelters around the country have been successful having programs like this.”

It’s not something just anyone can do, however. The first step is completing animal control’s volunteer training course.

“They come through our new volunteer training, and fill out our foster paperwork — it’s considered a foster opportunity. They have to fill out the paperwork, and then they can start checking dogs out,” Hill said.

Once a volunteer makes it through the training course, an officer will check the person’s home to make sure it meets the U.S. Department Of Agriculture’s standards.

They’re instructed on the protocol for handling dogs in different, public locations before taking them. And if they meet anyone interested in adopting in the wild, they refer the interested person to animal control.

From there, signing out dogs is very straightforward, Hill said. Volunteers sign out dogs, and animal control staff keep a log of volunteers and the dogs they have checked out.

“They just need to let us know at least a day in advance what they’re planning to do so we can match them with a dog that will be successful in that situation,” Hill said.

The program has actually helped boost adoptions. Animal control requires volunteers to walk the dogs with special collars and leashes to indicate they are shelter pets up for adoption, she said, which attracts potential adopters.

“We’ve already had four adopted just from them being out in the community,” Hill said. ”We’ve had two success adopts for dogs who have gone to the Pack Canine Studio on the island … They check out dogs to take to their facility, and they’ve helped us place two dogs.”

While animal control doesn’t have any specific requirements or prohibitions on where volunteers can take the dogs, Hill said they usually have something in mind before they check them out.

“We haven’t really set a time limit. At this point, people have taken them home for one or two nights. One time it turned into a long-term foster situation and they were adopted by a friend,” Hill said. “It’s pretty much anything within reason. They sign off on an agreement that they can’t let a dog off leash when they’re out of their home, and they have to follow all county ordinances for having a dog and they have to keep the dog healthy and happy.”

No issues have arisen as of yet, she said, but the program has earned some criticism from members of the public. Hill explained that, on the one hand, it seems like a bad idea to let dogs get attached to someone before taking them back to the shelter.

“Some say it’s like abandoning the dog a second time. While there are dogs that attach very quickly, there’s no way to prevent them from getting attached. They get attached to us at the shelter. The only way to keep them from being attached, because they’re built to get attached, is to keep them away from any contact with people,” Hill said.

In Hill’s opinion, the benefits outweigh the potential negatives, however.

It’s a program that’s proven to be successful in other communities, Hill said, such as the Oregon Humane Society and other organizations in Utah and Hawaii, among others.

In fact, Hill plans to eventually expand the program to allow visitors and vacationers to take the volunteer course and check out dogs during their stay.

“My hope is to maybe take this to the next step. The Golden Isles is a vacation destination. My hope is when summer vacation starts, I hope to be able to offer it as a vacation volunteer opportunity,” Hill said. “Vacationers can take a dog for the day, or overnight.”

“They are very successful programs, they’re great enrichment for the dogs, the volunteers have a good time doing it and it increased our visibility in the community,” Hill said. “… We’re not reinventing the wheel here.”

The shelter is often near or at capacity, which was one of the driving factors behind starting up the new program, Hill said. More dogs will be up for adoption soon, as she plans to lift an ongoing ringworm quarantine by the end of this week.

“All but one of the 13 dogs in ringworm quarantine have been release,” Hill said. “The last dog is expected to be out this time next week, we just need one more negative test.”

For more information on volunteering with animal control or the check-out program, call 912-554-7500 or visit the shelter at 4765 U.S. Highway 17 in Brunswick.

Bobby Haven/The Brunswick News 

The shrimp boat Perseverance sits in the St. Simons sound in November.

Oral history effort records the voices of the coast
 wwolfe  / 

It is at once both iconic and ancient. It could possibly be best described by the indescribable feeling of standing on the north end of Jekyll Island on a warm morning, watching one shrimp boat after another file through the St. Simons Sound and out into the sea.

But there are times that call for words, and Georgia Southern, along with the UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, aimed to meet those times with an oral history project covering commercial fishing on the Georgia coast — an industry that’s undergone extensive change over the last several decades.

The third of three events highlighting the project took place Saturday at the Marex and Sea Grant’s Brunswick Station.

“Most of the fishers we spoke with started in fishing very young,” said Jennifer Sweeney Tookes, assistant professor of anthropology at GSU. “They described helping family members on boats, as young as 5, and spending time after school on fishing docks — sometimes causing a bit of trouble, but often finding ways to make themselves useful and building relationships with their elders.

“These longterm relationships were often key in people being trusted with responsibilities and allowed to earn money at a very young age. They would head shrimp, they would clean the decks, they would clean the docks. Finding other ways just to be useful.”

Many of the people who began in the industry as children are now older — not unlike farming, commercial fishing’s become an older person’s industry. There are not people coming into the industry as young as before or in the numbers as before, something Bryan Fluech, Marine Extension associate director, refers to as the graying of the fleet.

Sweeney Tookes said one of the 32 people they interviewed talked about a ‘round the clock trip out onto the water with his father. The fishers told the researchers — mostly students — that they’d learn unspoken and informal expectations within the industry and form relationships that would help their career. A lot of the work depended on skill set, not necessarily age, so adept children could assume greater responsibility by showing competence.

“I was on the back deck all night long, picking up shrimp with his crew — it was cold, freezing, to me,” the shrimper said. “The second night, he was tired, so he pulled me off the deck and had me drive the boat, at night. We had old paper plotters — didn’t have GPS like we do now. It was on paper plotters. He says, follow these lines down to the end of the sheet, turn the boat around and go back the other way. And watch your radar, make sure you don’t hit nobody, and look out the windows and make sure you don’t hit nobody. He went to bed for like four hours and I was sitting there, 12 years old, driving a 60-foot shrimp boat.”

A regular topic during the interviews was that fishers said things like they couldn’t entirely explain the toughness of the job — lightning strikes, mailings, drownings. In one interview, the fisher said their boat caught on fire three times in the same day.

Another man interviewed said, “A lot of fellas have lost a life or limbs by not being careful and paying attention to what they were doing. Because, a lot of times when you’re bringing in your nets off the bottom, you’ve got cables, you’ve got to push it back and forth … and sometimes you might slip. You’ve just got to be careful and watch what you’re doing. And when you’re calling your ropes up, putting the nets in, or when you’re letting the nets back out, got to watch out.”

He said people would be amazed by how shrimp crews work the nets. In addition to the hand and dangerous nature of the work, fishers discussed the weather — the heat, cold, rain — and a belief that not many people have it in them to tolerate that in a workplace.

They also talked about a natural appreciation for the world in which they move.

“They know the sandbars, the tree lines, which areas they need to avoid,” Sweeney Tookes said. “They describe areas of the sea where key events happened in their own lives. The ocean doesn’t simply contain a resource that they need to draw from for their livelihoods. The interviews that we heard really illustrate how the ocean’s intimately tied to their own sense of culture and heritage and community history.”

She said that fishers would frequently talk about that connection to the natural environment.

A woman interviewed told the researchers about being out on the water, “It’s beautiful. It really is something that you would hope that people would get to see and experience at least one time in their life. It is — every day you wake up, it’s just different.”

The appreciation for the natural world wasn’t too far removed from a strong, professed religious faith. Sweeney Tookes said a fisher told them that you couldn’t necessarily stop for church on Sunday — if God blessed you with that day, and blessed the shrimp to be out, you had to go out on the water because you can’t expect it’ll be there tomorrow. She also said it’s impossible to talk about the future of commercial fishing without acknowledging that faith will likely be central to those futures.

“Spiritual beliefs and appreciation of what they’re perceiving as being provided by a higher power, were at the core of many comments that we heard,” Sweeney Tookes said. “They feel that God is central to their success as fishers. And, in fact, their pursuit of this career is a spiritual choice. One person told us, ‘You’re not going to catch everything in that water — ain’t nobody going to catch everything that’s out there. Mother Nature is what’s it’s going to be. She’s only going to produce so much, and the good Lord’s only going to give you so much. So, it’s either get along or go out trying.’”

The interviews will eventually be available on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website — — but there’s a significant amount of data and things are a little backed up thanks to the last partial government shutdown. Fluech said the shortest interview was 30 minutes and the longest was two hours, and many people could have talked longer. Transcription of every hour of audio took roughly three to five hours. The people interviewed discussed everything possible as it pertained to fishing, and the project was made possible through a Coastal Incentive Grant from the state Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Resources Division.

Technical college setting growth records
 gjackson  / 

Coastal Pines Technical College has seen a growth in enrollment for eight consecutive semesters.

College president Glenn Delbert, in an email, estimated a growth rate of about 20 percent by the time the end-of-semester report is released.

“The increase for the past three years can only be attributed to everyone’s hard work and passion for our students,” he said in the message. “For the past three years, each semester, we continue to break our own enrollment records.”

Lonnie Roberts, the college’s provost, said there were several other reasons for the steady increase in enrollment. Dual enrollment of high school students has added to the number of students taking courses at the college. In fact, Coastal Pines has the largest dual enrollment of any technical college in the state, Roberts said.

The health program has the biggest enrollment to meet the needs of hospitals in the region. A new RN program has been started to help alleviate a shortage in the region.

The college also tailors specific courses to meet the needs of regional employers, Roberts said. The apprentice program at Trident Refit Facility in Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base is a great example, but not the only one.

An electrical line program is now offered to meet the needs of Georgia Power for workers needed to work on power lines.

A new commercial fisherman program is waiting for approval to be offered. Roberts said he believes the program will be approved and be available later this year to meet the needs of the commercial fishing industry.

And the timber industry is suffering with a shortage of qualified workers to harvest trees.

Timber officials asked the college to create courses to train qualified employees, and the timber industry is providing some of the instructors, Roberts said.

“They were having trouble finding people with basic skills,” he said.

Randall Morris, a spokesman for Georgia Pacific, said he was among the supporters when the new timber program started.

“It’s a model of what a technical college can do to offer a course tailored to a particular industry,” he said.