Columbus Animal Control speaks on pets pulled from 17th Ave. home

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL)— In an exclusive investigative series, WRBL has been following the story of 24 animals taken from an abandoned home on 17th Avenue.

Monday, April 22, Columbus Animal Care and Control (CACC) and the Columbus Police Department pulled four dogs and 20 cats from the home.

“It was definitely something we would consider as inappropriate care of animals,” CACC Division Manager, Canita Johnson described.

WRBL has learned standard protocol was followed that morning by CACC, a door hanger was placed on the home located at 3508 17th Avenue, giving the owner 72 hours to respond. Concerned citizens called the police department, which resulted in both city entities entering the home that evening.

“When we took the animals out, they were not in a bad condition. In fact, this office was in communication with the owners, and we were made aware that they were going out to the home twice a day,” Johnson said. “We had already made contact with them and asked that when they went out on the second time, which would be in the evening that our office be contacted, and we meet them out there and they had already agreed to do so. It’s just that things progressed as such where we went in early with the call at the Columbus Police Department.

Johnson said there was evidence the pets had access to food and water, and all but one of the animals were healthy.

“The owner opted to have [one dog] euthanized,” Johnson informed. “Its faculties had failed them. And so, according to the owner, she already had an appointment to have it euthanized. Once we came and took the animals, she cancelled that appointment and came to us and once it was here, asked us to euthanize the baby.”

Despite the animals being taken from the property, the owner still had rights to make that decision. The owner also took back two of the dogs, and one of the cats.

In the state of Georgia and of course, our city ordinance, animals are considered property,” Johnson explained. “While it was that she has violations for which she was cited, those were still her animals. So, she had every right to claim her animals.”

WRBL obtained the citation Johnson referenced through an Open Records Request and confirmed the tenant of the home was charged with 16 animal-related charges in July 2023. Those charges also obtained by WRBL are as follows:

  • 5-8: Rabies Vaccination (3)

  • 5-9: Permit for Dogs and Cats Required (3)

  • 5-10(a): Dog unattended, Running at Large (3)

  • 5-10(d)(3) Attack, bite, snap, growl (3)

  • 5-10(c) unrestrained dog in park (3)

  • Contempt of Court (1)

The owner was ordered to appear in Environmental Court on August 2, 2023. The owner never appeared and has an active warrant out for arrest for being in contempt of court.

Johnson says the recent case stemming from April 22, 2023, is currently under investigation and citations on this current case have not been issued at this time.

19 of the cats are still available for adoption at Columbus Animal Care and Control. The fourth dog has been adopted.

RIVERFEST: Annual fundraising music festival returns to Columbus

Are Cases Like These Typical?

CACC provides animal control services for the city and cares for an average of 8,400 stray, surrendered, and abandoned animals annually. Johnson says cases like these are more common than some may believe.

“It is definitely a high number, and unfortunately we see it more often than not. But circumstances aren’t always the same,” Johnson said. “Especially during this time of the year, we have quite a number of concerns with the weather changing, it’s getting warm. And so, we do have, unfortunately, a lot of calls regarding a number of animals in one concentrated area.”

CACC is also tasked with adoption of animals, providing temporary shelter, reuniting lost pets with their owners, conduct humane euthanasia of unwanted animals, picking up dead and unwanted animals, as well as enforcing city ordinance and state laws relating to domestic animals.

Johnson says taking in this large number of animals at one time strains the facility and staff.

“It is definitely impactful because in the course of a day, we’re always full. And when I say full, that means every run in this facility has at least one animal in it from the back to the front,” Johnson said. “To take in that number of animals at any given time definitely puts us at a disadvantage because we have to stay in compliance with the [Georgia State] Department of [Agriculture]. We are governed by them, and the rules say that we cannot have more animals than we have runs. And so, it is imperative that we have the community help us out in adopting some of these babies that have been here for a while because we have to make space for those that are coming in.”

In order to increase community involvement, CACC has launched a ‘Come Save Me‘ Campaign on Facebook to identify animals that have been in the shelter for an extended period of time.

In addition, CACC conducts offsite adoption events on the weekends. Saturdays available animals line the median of Market Days on Broadway, and Sundays are spent outside of Petco on Whittlesey Boulevard.

Other than adoptions, partner agencies like PAWS, Animal SOS, and Animal Ark.

“They do come and rescue these babies, not just the ones that are immediately adoptable, but those that require medical attention that we can’t necessarily give them here. So, partnering with them is always a plus,” Johnson said. “They save us a lot of days. They can come in and take one, sometimes they can take five. So, it’s very important that even if you don’t adopt directly from us, that you do so with our rescue partners so that they can come over and get some more babies from us, so we won’t have to euthanize.”

Previous Reports

April 23, 2024: 24 Animals recovered from abandoned Columbus home | WRBL

April 25, 2024: Most animals rescued from abandoned Columbus home available for adoption | WRBL

April 29, 2024: Paws Humane works to transfer animals from 17th Ave. removal to no-kill facility | WRBL

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WRBL.