Suzanne Pittman has found homes for stray dogs in Dade County, Ga., for nearly five years.
She sent a German shepherd to Louisville, Ky., a 100-pound Labrador retriever to Connecticut, and other strays to Florida and New York.
But Dade has no animal shelter, which puts a strain on Pittman, who works with the Tri-State Humane Society to find homes for abandoned and stray animals.
The only animal shelter in the area is in Trenton city limits and space is limited. The shelter can take animals on request, but can only hold them so long before they must be euthanized.
In the last year, the humane society has received an influx in calls from locals who don't know what to do with strays that have been abandoned near their homes or left on roadways, Pittman said.
"We're in desperate, desperate need of a shelter," she said.
Pittman, along with humane society Director Ann Brown, opened a boutique in downtown Trenton in September 2010 to help raise money for their adoption projects and to hopefully one day open a shelter for the county.
So far, Brown said, they've raised a few thousand dollars toward the shelter but it's been difficult to generate larger interest from the community.
Dade County Executive Ted Rumley said he's aware of the growing problem in the county and has plans to build a shelter next year using money from the county's special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST.
Building a shelter was listed as a possible project when voters approved the 1 percent SPLOST in 2008, Rumley said. Now the county hopes to be move forward and build a shelter on county land off Sunset Drive near the county's waste transfer station.
"That's something we've got to do," he said. "There's more and more animals out there."
Currently, the county contracts with the Trenton Animal Shelter and, if the sherioffice receives a call for a stray or unruly animal, officials can request to use the city shelter, Rumley said.
But since Dade County borders Alabama and Tennessee, people can easily drop off animals in a rural place in the county, putting a strain on the city shelter, he said.
"Times are hard for people," he said. "[Some people] can't afford to feed kids, much less dogs."
But the humane society workers said they're concerned about a county-run shelter because it will have the option to euthanize the animals after a certain period of time. Pittman said their goal is to try and raise support for a no-kill shelter, but acknowledged that any type of shelter will be an improvement.
"This county is long overdue," she said.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...