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Woman taking on Long dog problem
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Dawn Johnson lives on the Long/Liberty County line, but is asking everyone in Long County to help deal with problems arising from not having any animal control.
"I am wanting to start a rescue operation in the county, and I am asking the county to help me in any way that they can," Johnson said.
Over the last two years, Johnson has been taking in strays and dogs that people are going to be forced to abandon, and finding homes for them.  
"Last year I adopted out 82 dogs, which were strays, and another 18, which were from people, who were leaving the area and had no place to put their dog," Johnson said.
"Animal control is expensive, and I know the county doesn't have the money to do it right now, but with what I am proposing, I can do it for a lot less money", she said.
Johnson wants to establish a non-profit rescue shelter that she'll oversee. Adoption would be so inexpensive, the animals would not be in the center long enough for it to reach its maximum occupancy.
According to Johnson, a dog bit her a few years ago, when she was assisting an elderly woman who was walking her shih tzu, and two dogs attacked the small dog.  Johnson says that when she called to report the incident to the Long County Sheriff's Department, she was told she could "shoot the dogs."
"When I told him I wouldn't do that, that I didn't even have a gun, he told me he would bring his gun to me."
Johnson said that she regrets not getting the deputy's name.
LCSD Sheriff Cecil Nobles said the comment would violate department policy, and that he wished Johnson had reported it to him at the time so he could investigate.
"No, we don't shoot stray dogs," he said. "The only time we would ever do that is if there was impending danger to one of my deputies or someone else. The animal would have to be vicious and out of control."
Johnson said the county did threaten action when two of her own dogs escaped from her yard, she was called by the Long County Code Enforcement Office.
"I was told that they had my two dogs (the dogs had IDs on their collars) and that I had a fine of $600 to get my dogs back."
Johnson did get her dogs back without fines.
"In my opinion, the dog ordinance is not being enforced, and if something isn't done, someone is going to sue the county, and I just believe that if I can get some help with this center, it will help solve the problem," she said.
Johnson said she was going to ask county commissioners for help.
"If I could get a couple of acres donated and maybe a trailer, for that matter any help at all, would be appreciated."
Long County Code Enforcement Officer John Bradley said, "We have had this problem since this office was opened up 21 months ago. We get 30-50 nuisance complaints every month on dogs, but we have never told anyone to shoot any dog, or any other animal."
He added, "There is nothing in our ordinance that says you ever kill a dog, for any reason."
According to the sheriff, his department receives about 10 calls a week about stray dogs.
"We need a shelter bad," the sheriff said. "When we get a report of a stray, we try to find the owner, but if we can't, there is nothing we can do. Right now I'm trying to see what I can do to help the county get a grant to help fund a shelter."
Bradley said the county is looking at plans to ease the problem.
"We have contacted several surrounding counties about the possibility of a joint venture regarding animal control, and we have gotten a good response from one of the counties."
He wouldn't say which county, fearing it may hamper negotiations.
Long County Commission Chairman Randy Wilson said the commission also sees the problem.
"The commissioners don't have a blind eye to the dog problem," Wilson said. "We know its there. We have been and are doing everything we can to try to address it."
For information on the Long County Dog Control Ordinance, call the code enforcement office at 545-3683. To help
Johnson's project, make a donation at any Heritage Bank branch to the Compassionate Humane Shelter.
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