Ludowici Police Chief Frank McClellan said his department is investigating claims of animal cruelty posted Jan. 6 on a Facebook page by a New-York-based animal welfare group.
The group, Guardians of Rescue, said in a press release that they rescued a dog named Liam from a Ludowici residence. A release issued by the group said they were made aware of Liam’s plight by animal advocates in Long County.
“I waited until I got the vet’s report and once I got that, I got in touch with DA’s office,” McClellan said. “And I am waiting to get a word back from them to see if it’s going to be a felony charge or a misdemeanor charge. Once I get the guidance from them, we will proceed with those charges.”
The chief said he has been accused him of sidestepping the issue.
But, McClellan said, Long County Animal Control officers work for the county commission and he has no control over how that department operates. He added this is the first animal cruelty case in the city since he became chief.
“And my intention is to do everything I can within the law,” he said.
Long County Administrator Frank Etheridge said Animal Control officers did visit the Ludowici residence in response to complaints. He said the officers don’t have the right to invade private property so they began searching for the homeowner. That took a few days. Once they did Animal Control officers went to the home with Ludowici Police officers. The owner surrendered Liam, but was allowed to keep two other dogs because they appeared cared for.
Etheridge said once Animal Control officers had Liam they contacted Mom’s Rescue, a group Etheridge said Animal Control Office has worked with to help animals. He said Mom’s Rescue said Liam would be taken to a veterinarian for treatment.
Etheridge said at that point Long County Animal Control had completed it job.
Patricia Bandy Durham, co-founder and CEO of K9 Battle Buddies, a rescue group in Ludowici, said Liam was one of five dogs living in deplorable conditions at the home. She claims animal control officers had done nothing to resolve the issue.
In a press release, Guardians of Rescue made similar claims.
“They refused to remove the dog from the situation until they were recently forced to,” the release stated. “In light of this, Guardians of Rescue is escalating the case to a new level, working with former FBI agents to uncover potential corruption at the shelter. They want to know why this dog and so many others have been allowed to live in such conditions, even after numerous complaints had been filed regarding the cruelty taking place.”
Etheridge said he has no idea when Guardians of Rescue got involved. He added he had not received a copy of Liam’s veterinary report until Thursday.
By then the Guardians of Rescue Facebook post had escalated the matter.
Durham said she doesn’t know who notified Guardians of Rescue or how Liam was given to the group, but she is glad the dog was rescued.
While Liam was surrendered, Durham worries about other dogs left with the owner, who has not been charged or named.
Chief McClellan said, “I’m going to do what is supposed to be done. I have dogs myself. If I would have known this earlier I would have done something earlier.”
The Guardians of Rescue group is going public, seeking information about the Long County Animal Shelter, the release said. The group can be contacted by calling 888-287-3864 or emailing email@example.com.