When my friend Wanda's father died, she was faced with the hundreds of tasks that come with settling an estate. One of her first priorities was to find homes for his two dogs. The difficulty was compounded because Wanda lives and works in Charleston and her family home is in Cleveland.
Luckily, the good folks of White County make for great neighbors, and the guy next door fed and looked after the two big farm dogs while Wanda moved heaven and earth to place them. She asked me to put a shout-out in my shop's weekly newsletter and a family in Habersham County quickly stepped up to adopt the Aussie mix.
Sam, the black lab mix, wasn't so easy to place. After all, the hills are alive with black labs and it seemed everyone who liked that breed already had one or more.
Finally, Wanda called with good news. She had found a no-kill shelter to place Sam until someone could adopt the sweet, trusting young dog. For a $100 donation, which covered the cost of neutering and vaccinations, she was guaranteed he would not be euthanized but rather held there until his "forever home" was found. It was a lovely place up in Rabun County called Boggs Mountain Humane Shelter.
What a lucky dog.
I almost missed the story July 18. We get our news from Channel 2. So if it hadn't been for the links on Facebook, I probably would not have seen Fox 5 Atlanta's investigative report.
An undercover investigation by reporter Randy Travis alleged that Boggs Mountain Humane Shelter killed some of the animals it claimed to be saving. Travis reported on a Boggs Mountain program called "Lucky Dog" (and "Lucky Kitty" for cats) through which an individual could sponsor a dog or cat with a monetary donation. The program was supposed to cover needed veterinary fees and remove the threat of euthenasia. In his report, Travis alleged that at least a dozen of those "lucky" animals were killed at the county animal shelter in another part of the same building.
Both facilities were managed by Lowanda "Peanut" Kilby, whose primary credentials, according to now disabled information available on the Boggs website last week, were that she was a Rabun County native and had worked with horses. Oh, and she drove a school bus. It didn't mention, as did a subsequent report by Travis, her history of arrests for writing a total of $11,000 in bad checks and an animal cruelty arrest 12 years ago for shooting a hunting dog who came on her property.
She paid off the bad checks and the charges were dropped. The grand jury declined to prosecute the animal cruelty case. Some serious red flags were either never seen or ignored.
I emailed Wanda and asked about her experience with Boggs Mountain. She responded: "I'm so heartbroken. They told me the exact things that were said in that (Fox 5 Atlanta) interview. At first they told me he'd been taken to a shelter in Atlanta. I told them I'd paid the $100 for him to be a Lucky Dog. I called the shelter in Atlanta and they said they didn't have him. So I called Boggs Mountain back and they checked (so they said) and said they'd made a mistake and he was still there. Then when I called again a few days later they told me he'd been adopted by a local family but they couldn't tell me anything about the family for privacy reasons. I just know they must have put him to sleep."
Kilby, has been placed on indefinite paid administrative leave. The shelter has been shut down and investigations have been opened by the GBI, the Rabun County Sheriff's Office and the state Department of Agriculture.
A Facebook page called "Lost Dogs of Boggs" has been created to help individuals with inquiries about animals they entrusted to the Boggs program. A public protest has been scheduled for noon Saturday at the Rabun County courthouse.
It seems if Boggs Mountain is to survive, there will have to be a thorough housecleaning. They need to bring in a director with impeccable animal rescue credentials. They need a hands-on board of directors. They need transparency, to be completely open about past errors and the lies that have been told. And, most of all, they need to beg for and be granted forgiveness from the people like Wanda who were so callously betrayed.
And we need to all be reminded that these so-called "no-kill" shelters are not the solution to pet overpopulation. The only actual solution is to spay and neuter. The hard truth is the real lucky dogs and cats are the ones who are never born.
Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears biweekly on Fridays and at gainesvilletimes.com/viewpoint.