Glynn County Animal Control staff answered the call this weekend to help catch and care for more than 160 German Shepherds in Metter.
According to the Candler County Sheriff’s Office, 167 dogs were being kept on a property south of Metter.
“It was a heavily wooded property, and the dogs were in group pens made of chain link fences,” said Glynn County Animal Control Manager Tiffani Hill. “We saw some dog houses and food troughs, and watering utilizing an irrigation-type watering system. However, I know that Atlanta Humane Society and Metter animal control had been going there for a few days to provide care, so I can’t say if that was the condition they found them in.”
Of the 167, 163 were picked up by pet rescue groups, one escaped and three were euthanized, according to the Candler County Sheriff’s Office.
Hill and Glynn County Animal Control officers Gerald Rewis and Daniel Mayne volunteered to help on Sunday. They worked with animal control officers from Chatham, Tattnall and Laurens counties, along with the Atlanta Humane Society.
Aside from some shelter equipment they took with them and brought back — catch poles, leashes, rubber boots and gloves — the trip was an independent enterprise, Hill said.
“We volunteered our time, and we were met by officers from the other counties,” Hill said. “... We have to be careful with how Glynn County resources are used.”
Hill, Rewis and Mayne spent around six hours in Metter, three of those chasing dogs and the rest assisting a veterinarian.
“I would say we spent a total of three hours catching dogs in knee-deep mud,” Hill said. “We helped them to go into the pens and catch the remaining dogs they had not pulled out the night before and assist the veterinarian with the quick (health) assessment and taking photos, and to put them in crates.”
According to Hill, Metter animal control officer Tom Condrey asked for assistance in cleaning up the mess.
“I’ve known Tommy since I first started in animal control 15 years ago,” Mayne said in a news release. “When he called me directly asking for help, I knew we had to go up there.”
In an email to The News, Candler County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Justin Wells said law enforcement found out about the situation when Sheriff John Miles received information that led him to suspect the property owner, Angela Felinda Powell, was allegedly engaging in cruelty to animals.
Miles put investigators on the case, who obtained a warrant and subsequently arrested Powell. She is charged with felony cruelty to animals as of Monday, but more charges are likely on the way, Wells’ email said.
“The case is still very much an active investigation,” Wells said in the email. “We may not know the full extent of the charges until we can get a further grasp on some of the conditions of the animals. However, we fully anticipate more charges on Powell.”
Already, the Atlanta Humane Society has managed to arrange places to send all 163 remaining dogs, said society spokeswoman Christina Hill.
“It’s an incredible outpouring of support from the rescue community to provide a place for those pets to go,” Christina Hill said. “With that many dogs, you can’t house them all in one facility.”
Despite the challenge, Georgia rescues and other humane societies were up to the task. Atlanta’s humane society is still working on a list of the number of groups involved and doesn’t have a final count, but Christina Hill said it was “many, many, many.”
“When we were finally processing the last of them, we had placement for all of those,” she said.
Tiffani Hill vouched for how smoothly finding homes for the dogs went.
“Throughout the whole time we were there, it was very well organized,” Tiffani Hill said. “There was a lot of attention paid to showing compassion to the dogs. We were proud to be asked to be part of the effort. Around 11 o’clock there was a line of trucks of rescue groups waiting to come in and pick up dogs. It was really an amazing sight.”
Seeing all the groups in action, she said, put her somewhat at ease.
“I am very glad that we have not encountered a situation like that in Glynn County, at least not in the history of the shelter I know of. But I know if we do, we’ll get the same response as far as help from out of the area, and that’s comforting,” Tiffani Hill said.