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State Warns Vidalia About Animal Shelter
Thursday, 05 August 2010

August 5--  The state of Georgia is warning Vidalia animal control officials that something has to be done about overcrowding at the city's animal shelter on Airport Road.

State inspector Tommy Sheffield visited the shelter Wednesday and said the 128 dogs housed in 39 pens exceeds capacity.  He plans to return in two weeks and says further action will be taken if no progress is made in reducing the population.

Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits, whose department runs the shelter, defends the shelter's no-kill policy.  "As long as we are taking care of the babies, they're not mistreated, they're not suffering, what does it matter to the state how long we keep them?  We have a very aggressive adoption program.  The Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society (SOAPS) has been absolutely wonderful in helping us relocate these babies.  For the state to come in and suggest 'you can euthanize in 10 days, why don't you?,' that's just not the city of Vidalia's policy," he says.

State animal control officials in Atlanta say they don't mandate killing shelter animals, but say the city has to take steps to reduce the number of animals either through putting them to death, transfer to other shelters or adoptions. 

Venessa Sims-Green with the Agriculture Department says a "stop order" may be issued which would prohibit the Vidalia shelter for accepting any more animals until it meets state standards.  She also said the city could be fined up to $1,000 for each instance of overcrowding.

The Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society is appealing to local citizens to adopt a pet.  SOAPS will pay $25 of the $45 adoption fee and also provide $100 toward the cost of spaying and neutering adopted pets.

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