The situation involving Savannah-Chatham County Animal Control and Friends of Animal Control Team Savannah (F.A.C.T.S.) – a non-profit rescue run by Diane Abolt, the wife of Chatham county manager Russ Abolt – is a good ol’ boys cesspool. The pound has been in trouble with the state in the past for holding animals for Diane Abolt indefinitely while killing other pets for “space” as soon as their holds expire. The state has also raised concerns about improper housing leading to the spread of disease at the pound. Russ Abolt and his buddies in leadership positions in the county have stuck their heads so far in the sand over these issues, only their asses were available for biting when inevitability came calling.
So it was that the Georgia Department of Agriculture issued a temporary shutdown order for the F.A.C.T.S. “shelter” – a.k.a. the Abolt’s unventilated garage at their house – after the state inspector found numerous violations consistent with Diane Abolt’s track record:
The inspection report reveals F.A.C.T.S. pulled four dogs from Savannah-Chatham County Animal Control on May 15 while that facility was under quarantine.
During the inspection, two of those dogs were at Abolt’s home, where they weren’t supposed to be.
One of the dogs was coughing while the inspector was there. When the local paper called Diane Abolt for comment, she offered up some half-baked explanation for the coughing dog that even the best screenwriters in the porn industry would have to reject as implausible. She also told the paper she “wasn’t really sure” how many dogs she had and mentioned the number 11 although the state seemed to think it was about 40. The inspector noted that records were in disarray in some cases and non-existent in others. The unventilated garage – er, shelter is shut down at least through May 31.
Just prior to this mess, Diane Abolt says she had put a hold on a dog named Barkley at the pound. She failed to pick the dog up in the Time Allotted for Everyone But Diane Abolt under shelter policy. So AC adopted him out to the next comer, Savannah-Chatham County AC Shelter supervisor Jodi Lewis, who took the dog home to her family. The family had Barkley for a week when apparently Diane Abolt noticed the dog wasn’t at the pound anymore and ran to hubby who ran to the police chief. Ms. Lewis was ordered by the police chief to give Barkley to Diane Abolt and her job was threatened.
Jodi Lewis parks her AC truck at the county line every day because the county will not allow the truck to be driven over the county line to the Lewis home. But in order to take Barkley away from his new family, the county made an exception and allowed an ACO to drive the truck to the Lewis home to get the dog. Barkley was getting a bath from the family’s 6 year old girl at the time.
Chatham Co manager Russ Abolt has described his wife Diane as “the Mother Teresa of dogs and cats”. Swap out Mother Teresa for Mommie Dearest and perhaps he’s onto something there.
The Savannah Morning News obtained copies of Barkley’s records and ruh-roh:
An open records request produced no written indication that Abolt had put a hold on the dog.
Was Barkley in the unventilated garage with the
11 40 dogs at the time of the state inspection? Is he still there? Is he coughing now too?
This is a travesty of the highest order. Not only is the county corruption impacting families and individual dogs, but the pound is still needlessly killing pets amidst all the playground politics. Area advocates need to band together in order to give the community’s dogs and cats a voice. Reform will obviously be a difficult challenge in the face of this kind of political corruption. But what other choice is there? There is strength in numbers. I only hope the numbers are sufficient and the commitment to saving pets from these monsters is enough to sustain a long term push for reform. The county is counting on the opposite.
(Thanks Clarice for the links.)