Questions raised about care at Columbia Co. animal shelter

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News 12 First at Five/ July 10, 2014


COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW) --The Columbia County animal shelter keeps their kill numbers low, usually around 5 or less a week.

But, one local family is questioning how the shelter cares for pets that are waiting for adoption. A Grovetown family recently adopted a dog who, they say, was in really bad shape after being in the shelter's care for 3 months.

"Her ribs were showing. Her spine was showing, and she had tapeworms," Jessica Mallicoat said.

Mallicoat came across a picture of the dog, named Arya now, on Columbia County's website. When she finally went to visit, she was shocked at her condition.

"I pointed it out and I said, she's bleeding, and he said, 'Oh no, that's old.' I said, 'It's coming out, you can see it.' He was like, hmm, I don't know," she said.

Arya gave birth to a litter of puppies at the shelter, but that was seven weeks earlier, too long to still be bleeding. Jessica also says she had several bald spots and was underweight. A day after getting her home, health problems started piling up.

"She actually exploded milk and blood all over the house. I've never seen anything like it," Mallicoat said.

They rushed her to the emergency vet. She was diagnosed with mastitis, a severe infection caused when milk doesn't release properly. A second vet visit, 4 days later, would reveal hookworms, whipworms, and a skin condition.

Columbia county animal services tell us they do not have a full time vet on staff. They say a vet isn't necessary to their adoption process and their facility is not set up for spay or neuter surgeries.

Mallicoat says, that's not acceptable.

"If they can't get a vet there, then they shouldn't have the dogs there," she said.

Columbia County says Arya was well cared for. They say they tested the bald patches and found them to be fine. Records from the shelter show Arya was in their care from March to June. Other than hair loss, no health concerns were ever observed by staff. Arya didn't see a vet during her three months at the shelter.

"To have a dog lay there and suffer, how many other dogs are laying there, going through the exact same thing," she said.

In the adoption contract with the shelter, new owners sign off that the shelter is not responsible for any medical problems. The contract also says animals up for adoption haven't been examined or treated by a licensed vet.

The vet bills for Arya ended costing the Mallicoat family around $600. Jessica said she is fine with paying for the medical bills, she just wants to make sure other pets in the shelter are getting get the proper medical attention.

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