Happy Tails Rescue's license suspended for 1 year

News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013

Happy Tails Investigation (WRDW-TV)

APPLING, Ga. (WRDW) -- Happy Tails Founder Barbara Gleitsmann rescued the dogs first, but now almost 40 dogs have to be rescued again now that her license has been suspended for a year.

"They gave us one month to place 38 dogs," Gleitsmann said.

Thirty days, according to the consent order issued by the Department of Agriculture, to place all these pups in good homes.

Gleitsmann runs CSRA Happy Tails Rescue in Columbia County. Her shelter has been under investigation since the Department of Agriculture found 18 violations in July of last year.

Now they're suspending her license.

"We hope she can take this year suspension period to get the affairs in order and bring her facility up to compliance of the Animal Protection Act," said Mark Murrah, manager of the Animal Protection Division in the Department of Agriculture.

Along with her year suspension, Gleitsmann also has to pay a $1,800 fine. She says she still doesn't understand why she's getting shut down.

"I think it's totally unfair. It's not like this was a puppy mill. It's not like there was inhumane care here at all. Dogs don't have to have fancy. They have to have safe, and they're all safe here," she said.

The Department of Agriculture says they don't want to shut her down for good.

"Our intent is not to shut any animal rescue organizations down. We realize the good that they do. We just have a set of laws," Murrah explained.

When the year is up, Gleitsmann can reapply for her license, but that's something she has yet to decide if she will do.

"I don't know, I don't know whether we will try this again. It's gonna take a while to get over this challenge," she said.

In their last report, the Department of Agriculture wrote that "the dogs do appear to be receiving humane care. They all have adequate food, water and shelter."

When he spoke with News 12, Murrah said there didn't seem to be any health issues with any of the animals.

As Gleitsmann comes up on the deadline of March 18, she's asking the community for help.

"We have supported the public in a variety of ways for a long, long time, and we have touched the lives of the families. Not only are we saving animals, we're helping families, so now is the time that we need help," she pleaded.

The last inspection was about three weeks ago. According to the report, there are still violations, but none as serious as the 18 they found before. It's mostly just about record-keeping, a rodent problem and some yard debris.

The report goes on to say the facility is now as sanitary as possible, and the dogs are well cared for.

Gleitsmann says she has reduced the adoption fee to $80 in hopes of placing the dogs more quickly.

She will be having two special adoption events this weekend. One will be at the Louis Memorial Church Flea Market. The other will happen at Ridge Road Cafe on Washington Road from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information, Gleitsmann says to call the rescue at (706) 955-0438.

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