Protesters and counter-demonstrators in Coffee County got emotional Saturday over what some say is being done to abandoned animals up for adoption.
It's the second time in six months the county's animal control has made headlines. Last June, animal rescuers were upset to learn an animal control worker shot and killed a dog belonging to the county mayor's son and threw the body in a dumpster behind the shelter. Animal control officials told Channel 4 at the time, they made a judgment call to help an animal they say was in pain. They added the disposal of the body in a dumpster was due to budget constraints.
Saturday morning, dozens from the community and animal rescue groups gathered again in Manchester, this time protesting what they call unfit conditions and a high kill rate at Coffee County Animal Control.
"There's no warning," said Janice Milner of No Kill Manchester. "We don't know when the dogs are going to die."
Milner said she just rescued four dogs from animal control last week, only to find five other dogs had been euthanized.
"He cannot tell me why he kills dogs anyway, even though we rescue them," said Milner.
While Coffee County Animal Control Director Kevin Brown declined to appear on camera, he told Channel 4 by phone he gave several dogs to rescue agencies last week. He said the dogs that were euthanized had not been claimed.
Brown said animal control has actually reduced their kill rate from 40 euthanized in a month a few years ago to only 10 animals euthanized last month because he is working with rescue groups. Milner said there's not enough cooperation.
"They don't let volunteers come in and help, and we'll call and they don't answer the phone," said Milner. "We'll go down there and sit for two or three hours. We've done this many times."
Close by, a few counter protesters including a representative for the Coffee County Humane Society gathered in support of Coffee County Animal Control. They and Brown both claimed dogs in bad condition come to animal control that way and rescue groups are selective about which dogs they save. The rescue groups at the protest argued they want to save all animals.
Also at issue for the rescue groups were the hours when animal control operates. The department is now open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Protesters said this doesn't give people who work a time to come by animal control, and it needs to be open for one day during the weekend.
Brown said he does want to work with rescue groups involved with the protest in order to save as many dogs as possible.