Making of Miracle Stories animal-rescue shelter founder and President Karen Talbot said Friday that the embattled center is in the process of marketing out the animals that still are at the site on Hugh Gordon Lane in Long County.
She said calls were being made from Virginia to New Hampshire in an effort to find new places for the animals.
From her New Jersey home, Talbot told the Coastal Courier in a phone interview that she feared for the safety of the animals and the volunteers, so arrangements were being made to find new places to store them until they could be adopted out.
"We still don’t know what Long County is doing, and I fear that there might be some kind of retaliation," Talbot said. "For this reason, we’re taking the animals off the ranch, and we won’t be filling any more spots there."
Talbot said that some of the threats the shelter had received included shooting all of the animals and running all of the volunteers off.
At the Oct. 8 Long County Commission meeting, shelter volunteers were told they had until Dec. 1 to find a new location for the shelter or relocate the animals to another area. That action followed complaints from residents in the area about noise from the shelter since it opened in 2011. Since then, the commission and the shelter have been working on a compromise, trying to come up with an answer that would make everyone happy.
Dwight Gordon, the commissioner of the shelter’s district, said the commissioners’ goal never was for the shelter to close down, simply to find another location.
Since the meeting, the shelter’s attorney, Ray Smith, and County Attorney Jay Swindell have met several times to resolve the issue, but to no avail, according to Talbot. She said that as of Friday, Smith had told her no official action had been taken by Long County.
Smith was contacted on Friday by the Courier, but the only comment he made was to say that he and the county attorney still were in discussions about the matter.
Long County Code-Enforcement Officer John Bradley also was contacted Friday, but he said the matter had been turned over to the attorneys. Both Gordon and Long County Commission Chairman Robert Long were contacted by the Courier recently for comment, but both men declined, saying that it had been turned over to the attorneys and the code-enforcement office.
According to Talbot, since last month’s meeting, the shelter has received hundreds of calls voicing support for the shelter, and an online petition in opposition to the county’s action had received thousands of signatures.
However, Talbot believes the shelter could win the battle with the county, but not the war.
"When all of the cameras were gone and all of the press died down, they would continue to put pressure on us, and with the threats of retaliation, we have to think about the lives that we have to protect," she said.