Many Polk County Animal Control volunteers were given letters that state, in part, “Because of your actions while serving as a volunteer at the Polk County Animal Control Facility, which have served to dramatically disrupt and undermine the day to day operations of the Polk County Animal Control: Your privileges as a volunteer are hereby immediately terminated; Your presence is no longer welcome in any part of the Polk County Animal Control Facility; You must immediately cease to affiliate yourself with the Polk County Animal Control Facility. It is signed “Kindest Regards, Matthew Denton, County Manager.”
In a recent Facebook post, Polk County Animal Control in Georgia wrote:
These 7 beautiful puppies were recently rescued from polk county animal control we received this update picture of them in their foster home! We really appreciate all of the rescues and volunteers that help us time and time again you are all greatly appreciated!”
The volunteers who worked so diligently to save as many animals as possible would disagree with this statement. In fact, one wrote on Facebook that: “I’m officially banned from Polk county animal control, Cedartown GA. Isn’t it funny? All the networking, transporting, 3 dogs I personally adopted, 1000s of photos I’ve taken at this shelter to save lives . I’m banned!!! All because I spoke up when I saw a community service worker kick a Black Bulldog multiple times in the head to get it into its kennel. The same day a pit bull named rusty was found dead in his kennel from unknown causes!?! My formal complaint to the commissioners went unanswered for months and when myself and others took to social media about the abuse happening in this shelter, we get banned!?!” (The Board of Commissioners has been contacted for their statement. If any official response is received, this article will be updated.)
In fact, one of those banned is the President of the Cedartown Humane Society. This was first shared in the article, “Polk County Animal Control wants volunteers to shut up” where it was shared that unless volunteers signed what was basically a gag order, they would not be allowed in the shelter. That meant that no matter what abuse or cruelty the volunteers might see, they would not be allowed to post such abuse publicly, even if — as happened in the past — they contacted the county officials first trying to get the wrongs righted.
The whole issue arose when volunteers were outraged that a dog was not allowed to receive medical care even though a sponsor was going to pay for it. In other words, the county would not allow a dog to receive free medical care!! “Polk County AC refuses to allow animals medical care even when it’s free” was the article that shared this shocking information. No-Kill Nation was also rightly horrified that a shelter would deny an animal medical care — especially when it wouldn’t cost the shelter a penny!
The volunteers also share stories about a small and very ill dog whom they begged to be able to take to an emergency clinic. They were not allowed to save the little dog and it died, alone and in pain, at the shelter. There have been other situations where ill dogs have died in the kennels because of lack of medical care.
The county officials do not seem to care that volunteers who save many, many dogs are now being barred from saving the lives of the most vulnerable. Perhaps they feel that others care as little for the rights of animals as they do. If you wish to change their opinion of how people are viewing Polk County, Georgia, contact the board officials. Contact information: Stefanie Drake Burford (Chairman), Office phone: 770-749-2100; cell phone: 678-476-4665; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Jason Ward (Vice Chair), Office phone: 770-749-2100; cell phone: 678-861-1250; email: email@example.com. Scotty Tillery, Office phone: 770-749-2100; cell phone: 770-324-2561; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Marshelle Thaxton, Office phone: 770-749-2100; cell phone: 770-634-7896; email: email@example.com. Ray Barber, Office phone: 770-749-2100; cell phone: 678-901-7790; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Jennifer Lankford Hulsey, Office phone: 770-749-2100; cell phone: 404-694-2470; email: email@example.com.
Instead of keeping out those who speak the truth and stand up for the animals, the Board of Commissioners should be thanking them for their volunteer service and commending them on doing what is right. In schools, children learn that to be a bystander is to stand by and do nothing. They are taught to be an “upstander,” or to stand up for what is right. Those who stood up for the animals in Polk County are heroes — and those who try to silence their voices need to know that.
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