Other rescues will have to pick up slack to save dogs with Happy Tails suspended

News 12 First at Five / Monday, March 18, 2013

Happy Tails Investigation (WRDW-TV)

APPLING, Ga. (WRDW) -- After the Department of Agriculture made the decision to suspend them, Happy Tails had only a month to find 38 dogs new homes.

With the deadline hitting today, they were working up to the very last minute.

"It has been overwhelming. We were still doing adoptions last night at 8 o'clock," said Happy Tails Founder Barbara Gleitsmann.

What used to be a backyard full of barking dogs is now just a bunch of empty crates at CSRA Happy Tails.

"Every one of them has been adopted now. None of them are in jeopardy any longer," Gleitsmann said.

Getting 38 dogs adopted in 30 days was the challenge after the Department of Agriculture suspended Happy Tails' license. While that's a remarkable feat for anyone, some say it's a testament to the high adoption rate here in Columbia County.

In 2012, 622 animals were adopted out of Columbia County Animal Services. Nearly 260 more were sent to rescues, most of them heading right to Happy Tails.

"It's very sad, and it's going to be hard on the community to lose one of those rescue groups," said Heartsong Clinic Manager Sarah Burden.

Heartsong is another rescue and clinic in Columbia County. She says now that Happy Tails is shut down, they'll have to pick up the slack.

"Obviously there's going to be a higher rate of animals that we're going to have to pull, and the other rescue groups are going to have to pull because Happy Tails is unable to now," Burden said.

Since August of 2011, Happy Tails took in 118 animals, more than any other rescue in the county. The next highest intakes totaled 40 and 37 animals.

Now, Gleitsmann is afraid with the number of rescues down, something else will rise.

"The euthanasia rates are going to be significantly raised in these tax-supported shelters because Happy Tails Rescue will no longer be pulling animals," she said.

While Columbia County's euthanasia rate sits at 21 percent, much lower than Aiken County's 75 percent, Barbara is just happy she could find homes for the 38 animals in her care.

Gleitsmann will still run her boarding business on the property, but she has to wait one year before she can reapply for her rescue license.

But Gleitsmann says her suspension is not getting her down. She has asked to go before the Columbia County Commission Tuesday night, not to talk about her business, but the overall problem in the county.

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