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SOAPS Briefs Black on Lyons Shelter
Thursday, 10 February 2011

February 10--  Georgia's new Agriculture Commissioner is gathering information on the January 20th killing of 77 dogs at the Lyons dog pound and promises to do his job when the facts are known.

ImageSOAPS CEO Therisa Ingley (r) explains the organization's concerns to Commissioner Black during a meeting at The Advance newspaper with reporter Kathy Bradford and other representatives of SOAPS.

Commissioner Gary Black spent an hour-and-a-half Thursday night in Vidalia meeting with representatives of the Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society regarding the incident.

SOAPS CEO Therisa Ingley told Black she believes there's been dereliction of duty by a state inspector who gave the Lyon's pound a clean bill of health after the killings and violation of state law by Lyons officials in terms of animal cruelty, record-keeping and burial of the dead dogs.

She also noted the Lyons city council has formed a committee which is addressing problems at the pound.

After the meeting, Black said, "There are some good questions the folks from SOAPS have asked and that's we're about, to get some answers.  That's  why I came down, to listen. I think we've had a good productive session and I've got a task ahead of me of gathering more information and taking the information we have here and begin to process it," he said.

Bradford furnished the commissioner with pound records she obtained from the City of Lyons through the Freedom of Information Act.  She noted many contain discrepancies and don't accurately reflect the number of dogs impounded.  State Inspector Tommy Sheffield passed the city on its records in an inspection following the January killings.

She also noted the city's burial of the dogs violated the Department of Agriculture's regulations.  State rules call for a burial pit no wider than four feet.  The Lyons pit was 25 feet by 25 feet.

Ingley told Black SOAPS volunteers have found puppies frozen to death, dogs with wounds exposing bones, and others who had been dead long enough in the pound to attract maggots.  She believes this amounts to criminal cruelty to animals.  

Commissioner Black said such claims should be reported to the Sheriff's Office and was informed SOAPS was referred by the Sheriff's Office to the Lyon Police Department which has yet to act on a complaint filed by SOAPS last month.

"My committment to the people of Georgia is for the department to do what it's supposed to do at all levels, not just this one here.  We need a department that's responsible for all the things provided under Georgia law and that's what I intend to deliver," the Commissioner promised.

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