Priest Approached by Alexander's Father
Atlanta, GA - A new segment has been aired about the Fulton County Animal Shelter. Leaders in White County want to know why the former director, Jere Alexander, thought it was a good idea to release a large number of unwanted cats in the north Georgia mountains. This is the latest development in a series of problems I-Team investigators exposed at the shelter. In the latest video segment, I-Team reporter Randy Travis explains why people in White County are so upset.
From left: Jere Alexander, Pat Cooper, Alton Brown, cat vigil.
The video recaps the history of the missing 100 feral cats, as well as the previous problems reported at the shelter managed by Barking Hound Village Foundation. Myles Swain, the former Kennel Manager crops up again, as does Alexander, who initially told Travis that a rescue group -- operated by Alexander -- took the cats, sterilized them, then released them. She did not tell Travis where the cats were released, nor could she provide records of the sterilizations.
Likely many U.S. counties, White County already suffers from an overpopulation of feral cats. When officials learned that Fulton County released more feral cats into their area, "it got their dander up big time," reported Travis. Rabies Control Director, Pat Cooper said that when she learned of the new cats, her head started spinning and her stomach started turning. White County Manager, Alton Brown, said the situation was a public health issue. "I'm not going to let this go."
Just last month, during a candlelight vigil, animal lovers pounded 84 signs in the ground, one for each missing cat, outside the Fulton County Animal Shelter. They demanded to know what became of the feral cats from Barking Hound Village Foundation (BHVF), the organization that operates the Fulton County Animal Shelter. At the time that story was reported, David York of BHVF said the cats had been given to an unnamed priest in north Georgia.
Barking Hound Village Foundation faxed a sworn affidavit from a catholic priest over to Fox 5 News. The priest said that Alexander's father had approached him about his daughter's desire to release feral cats into the area. Father Vincent Sullivan said that some of the parishioners thought the farmers could use the cats to cut down on the rat population. According to the affidavit, the cats were left in the "mountainous areas of White County" near Cleveland.
The affidavit, however, has caused even more controversy. Brown says that the release was in violation of local code. White County officials filed a complaint with the Department of Agriculture, worried about the possibility of 100 unvaccinated and unsterilized cats spreading throughout their community. Cooper says that cats get rabies very easily. She warned that if a person gets bit by a rabid animal, and they are not treated right away, the person will die.
In addition to the fluctuating number of missing cats, 84 and now up to 100, the question still remains how many cats were released into White County? Additionally, were any of the cats vaccinated or sterilized? And finally, is anyone providing care to the animals? A BHVF spokesperson said he had no knowledge the cats were delivered to White County until after the fact. They also produced the individual who reportedly released the animals. He said only released about 15 cats.
Readers, there are still 85 cats unaccounted for.
Special request: DogsBite.org asks that you leave comments at Randy Travis's blog about this story. His team has done an excellent job in reporting this story. Your insightful comments will greatly add to these efforts.
10/31/08: Coverage of the Fulton County Animal Shelter - DogsBite.org