NE Ga. Animal Shelter To Not Accept Animals from Hart, Franklin Cos.

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia

The Northeast Georgia Animal Shelter in Lavonia will not be taking in any stray or unwanted dogs or cats from people in Hart and Franklin Counties in December.

Earlier this month, Shelter Director Sheri Lockhart said the decision was made by the shelter board after learning that the Hart County Board of Commissioners had decided once again not to fully fund the shelter at the amount it agreed to in 2010.

According to Lockhart, the shelter board has decided to take action with the counties on cut-off dates for accepting animals, with Hart County’s cut-off date set as Saturday, December 1 at 4 p.m. and Franklin County’s cut-off date as Saturday, December 8 at 4 p.m.

Lockhart emphasized however, that the decision to not take animals from Hart and Franklin County residents does not affect those people who live inside the Hartwell city limits or inside the city limits of the five Franklin County municipalities.

Lockhart said if a Hart or Franklin County resident comes to the shelter in December with an unwanted animal to turn in, they will be told to contact their commissioners.

The shelter said that both Franklin and Hart counties are not paying what was agreed to in previous funding agreements.

Earlier this month, Hart County Commissioners voted to allocate $37,000 in the county’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget for animal intake services, $20,000 less than what the shelter board says they would actually owe based on the 2010 agreement.

Hart County Administrator Jon Caime said after the shelter board’s decision, it is now up to Hart County Commissioners to decide whether to kick in more money to fully fund the shelter.

Meanwhile, Franklin County is also behind in its funding agreement.

In July, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners amended their Fiscal Year13 budget to move $8,500 from the elections fund to the shelter fund as a stopgap measure, but that still left the shelter some $19,000 short of the $68,000 the county agreed to pay. At the time, Franklin County Commission Vice-Chair Clint Harper said he could not justify increasing funding to the shelter when other departments’ budgets had been cut. The Franklin County board voted unanimously in August to wait until December to reconsider the funding issue after property tax collections had come in.

Lockhart said the Lavonia shelter will once again take animals from Hart and Franklin counties beginning in January, but will again stop taking in animals from each county if the money runs out before the quarter ends.