By Mike Morrison
From: The Florida Times-Union
A Waycross animal shelter where dogs might have died of heat-related illnesses has been wired for electricity now and fans are blowing in the kennel.
Shelter manager Ben Hood said his phone started ringing almost as soon as a Times-Union story describing the problem came out Thursday.
The city followed through on a promise to finish wiring the 140-by-40-foot kennel, Hood said. Donations began to roll in to help fund the cash-strapped shelter that houses strays collected by the city and Ware County as well unwanted animals brought in by individuals.
The city has been particularly helpful, Hood said.
“After the story came out, it was a mad rush,” he said. “I’ve never seen so many people out here on this site.”
City workers were mowing the lawn as well as wiring the kennel, Hood said.
Hood told the Times-Union last week that 14 dogs had died during the summer, with heat stroke the likely cause, although necropsies had not been performed to determine the cause of death.
“We’ve had record high temperatures this year,” he said.
The shelter has received more than $3,000 in donations and several offers of volunteer services, but all the calls that came in weren’t supportive, Hood said.
“I’ve also received a lot of hate,” he said. “One person got my personal cellphone number and threatened to come over here and do to me what has been done to the dogs.”
The shelter also is the subject of a Georgia Department of Agriculture investigation, a spokeswoman for the department said Tuesday.
“Inspector Tommy Sheffield has been there and is going back,” Ceciley Thomas said. “I don’t have any details because it’s an open investigation.”
Hood said he has welcomed the inspector into the shelter.
“It’s not unusual to see them, and we’re helping them any way we can,” he said. “They received a lot of complaints after the story came out, and they’re following through on them.”
The Department of Agriculture inspects and licenses animal shelters.
Hood said a shortage of funds and theft of materials prevented the wiring from being completed when the shelter was built. The shelter has struggled along with many other agencies during the economic downturn.
But the rush of publicity from print and broadcast media has helped ease its immediate problems.
“The situation has improved 100-fold,” Hood said.
Hood suggested that those upset by the report of the dog deaths should channel their anger in a positive direction by making a donation or volunteering to help out.
“Honestly,” he said, “we are doing all we can.”
Read more: The Florida Times-Union