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Seeking a top-notch dog shop

Friends of Screven County Animals asked county commissioners Tuesday for a streamlined adoption process and for permission to let volunteers open the shelter for three hours, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., on Saturdays.

Currently, the shelter is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, staffed by an inmate at the adjacent prison, and is closed on weekends.

County commissioners said they appreciate the work the new group has done and want to help them, but they need to check with the county attorney about the legal implications of changing the adoption process and of having volunteers open the shelter on weekends.

Commission Chairman Stan Sheppard said they would check on the legalities and get back to them soon. “You folks have hit the ground running” Sheppard said of the group, which has a Web site – www.friendsofscrevencountyanimals.org -- and sends daily e-mails with photos of dogs and cats available at the shelter for adoption.

The group also is working toward gaining non-profit status and is setting up its own shelter in Sylvania.

“If there’s a way we can make it easier for ya’ll, our sense is, we will,” Sheppard said.

Commissioner Gregg Ellison said the commission will find a way to work through the legal issues. “We’re getting really, really close to starting work on the new shelter,” he said. “We realize the situation we have is terrible out there.”

When members of Friends want to take dogs or cats from the shelter to put them in temporary foster homes in the community, they have to pay the county’s $5 adoption fee and sign papers as if they were adopting them themselves, promising to have the animals spayed or neutered within 30 days. “We’re legally liable for spaying or neutering the animals,” said Darryl DeGroat, president of Friends.

Instead, they would like to still pay the $5 fee, but hold the paperwork while the dogs are in foster care and have the person who eventually gives the dog a “forever” home sign the adoption paperwork with the pledge to spay or neuter within 30 days. That’s the paperwork issue commissioners said they would investigate.

About eight dogs were adopted from the shelter last week and three were adopted early this week, said Thomas Lariscy, the county’s animal control officer. He said adoptions have picked up so much because of the work by Friends that he expects 30 dogs and cats to be adopted each month, rather than 30 a year as in previous years.

County workers have put orange flags at the site of the new shelter, adjacent to the old shelter on Rocky Ford Road, and are looking into issues such as drainage before beginning work on the foundation. The county has set aside special purpose local option sales tax money to build the new facility.

The current facility has 18 outdoor cages on a dirt floor, with shelters made out of drums turned on their sides. The new shelter will be a 6,000-square-foot heated and cooled building with three times as many cages. Concrete floors will help keep the animals clean and combat disease such as parvovirus, which is nearly impossible to battle with the current dirt floors.

In other action during their regular commission meeting at the courthouse Tuesday, county commissioners agreed to pay $191,000 to North Florida Emulsions, a company based in Palatka, Fla., to pave eight miles of Ogeechee Road. And they agreed to pay $19,200 to Florida Highway Products of Celebration, Fla., to seal a total of 6.3 miles of road, on Union Church Road, Cab Drive, Zellabee Road, Millerville Road and in the courthouse parking lot.