Columbus residents up in arms over injustice at Animal Control *FREE ELIJAH*
This is an URGENT PLEA for a dog named Elijah who is being held captive in a Georgia “shelter”. Please visit the Free Elijah facebook page and after reading his story, please sign the petition at the bottom of the page. Join us in a fight for his life. Elijah is, first of all, a living breathing creature with a soul. There are people who have forgotten this.
Elijah was nursed back to life once after being rescued from Columbus Animal Care & Control in by Animal Ark Rescue, and now the city is refusing every attempt from the rescue to reclaim him, as if they are determined to see him die.
On February 29th, Animal Ark released him into the care of an adopter who had one resident dog, a beagle. This person had visited with Elijah multiple times throughout his care, bringing him treats and toys, and approached Animal Ark about providing him with a permanent home. They agreed to take Elijah home, under the conditions that they would bring Elijah back to 2nd Ave for his weekly exams, which Animal Ark would continue to pay for. The idea was that instead of moving Elijah from home to home, he could form a deep bond while recovering in what would be his forever home. Animal Ark even waived his adoption fee, wanting only for Elijah to be placed in a good home.
In less than twenty-four hours later, on the first day of March, Elijah was back at Columbus Animal Care & Control, where he remains to this day, the 23rd of March, OVER THREE WEEKS later. A call to the city veterinarian confirmed that they can not release any information about Elijah, so there he sits in isolation, likely with no medical attention once again. The details of his impoundment will be presented below, as they were presented to the Animal Advisory Board in an effort to stop them from killing Elijah.
Again, Elijah is a living breathing soul. He was NOT fully recovered at the time of impoundment and has not been receiving the care he so obviously needs – for OVER THREE WEEKS he has been languishing at Columbus Animal Care & Control. We can only imagine what his health is like, if he is in fact alive. Staff will not allow anybody to see him.
You will never get him back
“The local animal advisory board refuses to release Elijah to Animal Ark Rescue [...] I am scared to imagine what condition he is in now. I am pleading for Elijah’s release, so he has the chance for redemption in a secure environment. Elijah trusted me and this is an injustice to be forced to give up on him now.”
On March 22nd, in a blantantly arrogant comment on her facebook page, Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said “Elijah will be going to a treatment facility thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our ACCC and our Animal advisory Committee. We are fortunate to have such a compassionate Director, staff and Advisors!”. It was the compassionate director, Drale Short, that told the Animal Ark, and I quote, “You will never get Elijah back”. It was the animal advisory committee that made the determination to refuse Animal Ark access, and to kill Elijah if placement can not be found for him. This comment from the Columbus Mayor flaunts her complete lack of respect for her own constituants (who all know better, and tell her so often), and the rescues that fight to save her city’s pets.
What really happened that day?
We may never know for sure. These excerpts are either from notes taken by Animal Ark, or posts and comments taken directly from Free Elijah, Happy Homes, and other facebook pages.
- Elijah’s adopter made a phone call to the rescue, and spoke to a receptionist. She sounded winded and stated, “I need [president of Animal Ark], it’s about her dog, what’s the number to 2nd Ave vet” then she hung up and was unreachable. A call to 2nd Ave immediately after confirmed that the adopter did not call the vet hospital.
- The adopter finally returned Animal Ark’s calls, claiming that “Elijah attacked her dog in the laundry room, and that her neighbor had to come rescue her because she got bit and Elijah and her dog were on top of her in the yard and that her dog has to go to the vet. She said Elijah HAS TO GO, and that she didn’t want to call Animal Control but her neighbors made her, and that Animal Control made her sign him over to them.”
- In a third phone call, she changed her story, saying now that “Elijah attacked her. She said he is not hurt but her dog is, and that Animal Control told her that he has no wounds and that the blood on him belonged to her.
- After being impounded the second time, Animal Ark asked to see Elijah. “Elijah has bite marks on his face, ears and up and down his legs.”
- The other dog in the home was not impounded and remains in the adopter’s custody. Because she says it was Elijah that bit her, he was the one that was impounded.
- According to the neighbor, who answered her phone when Animal Ark called to check on her, the adopter was treated for puncture wounds at Acute Care.
- The neighbor posted this to their facebook page “They started fighting in the house and she was able to get them outside and then she for pinned in the ground (sic) up against the door with the pit and beagle on top of her.”
- Understandably considering his condition, Elijah does have some food-guarding issues with other dogs, not people. From Free Elijah, “the adopter was given clear instructions on how to introduce Elijah with her dog so nothing like this would happen. She was also told how not to feed them together, b/c of food aggression precautions.”
- From another witness “it was the foster that told her in front of me that Elijah can not be fed together with other dogs” and “She talked about food guarding during the adoption and how no other dog could be near to sniff it.”
- However, Elijah’s foster said, after speaking to the adopter, “according to her [the adopter], she was not told of his aggression until I told her.” It is unclear whether the foster is referring to when she talked to the adopter at the time of the adoption, or over the phone after the incident.
It is my own assumption that within 24 hours of bringing Elijah into her home, territory belonging to her resident dog, and despite being warned about food aggression issues, a dog fight broke out. I believe that Elijah did not in fact “attack” her, but that she may have then tried to break up the fight, resulting in a dog redirecting toward her and biting her. The dogs continued to fight, and while I can not confirm whether or not her dog received any injuries, Elijah did. It is very unlikely, given his emaciated state, that he would “attack” her unprovoked.
With his adopter claiming that Elijah bit her, he would need to be placed on a 10-day bite quarantine. When the Animal Control officer arrived on the scene, Elijah’s adopter chose to relinquish ownership of Elijah to Animal Control, and in that moment he became the property of the city of Columbus. He would serve out his quarantine period at Animal Control, and would be killed. After some conversation about the Animal Control decision, they agree on a hearing to repeal the city’s decision to kill him, which bought him some time.
The verdict is in, but the decision was made long ago.
The Animal Advisory Committee met for a hearing on March 20th. They hardly took Animal Arks rebuttle into consideration, and are still refusing to release him. The city has deemed him a “potentially dangerous dog”, and it is obvious that they had made that decision well in advance.
A full definition of what constitutes a potentially dangerous dog can be found here, under Article 2, subsection 4-8-21, it states that a “Potentially dangerous dog” means any dog that without provocation bites a human being on public or private property. From Free Elijah, “Elijah did not attack, he was attacked by another animal and defended himself. That is not “without provocation”. He was provoked to defend himself, but yet he is suffering the consequences. The other animal in question was not held in quarantine, the owner has not been fined. Elijah is the victim.”.
From Animal Ark, on March 6, 2012, well before the hearing to determine the outcome of Elijah’s life, “I’m in Drale’s office when she tells me that I will never get Elijah back and that he will be euthanized.” Any rebuttle is futile, but Animal Ark presents their case regardless.
These are some of the items presented to the Animal Advisory Board:
- Transcripts from the owner’s changing story, first that Elijah attacked her dog, then that Elijah attacked her.
- Photos showing the treatment he had been given while in the care of Animal Ark
- Dr. LeFranc DVM at 2nd Ave Animal Hospital conveyed his opposition to Elijah’s dangerous dog classification.
- At the hearing, the Animal Control Officer dispatched to the scene testified on Elijah’s behalf. From Free Elijah, the ACO “stated that he [Elijah] was very docile, calm, and non-aggressive when he picked him up, took him in, and there has been NO instance of aggression while he has been there 22 days.”
Animal Ark offered to sign some sort of “potentially dangerous” paperwork in order to save his life, and even offered to make Elijah a permanent fixture in the rescue, to never be adopted again, but they were refused. Just this week, Animal Control released another dog from bite quarantine that bit a child. What makes Elijah’s case so different, that would condemn him?
Their decision suggests a deep-seeded effort by the city to retaliate against their involvement in the ever-growing No Kill Movement. That argument has been presented in a follow-up blog. For now, we will keep the attention on Elijah, and getting him to safety, for his days are numbered.
“They say that they are trying to facilitate for him to go to Best Friends rescue in Utah, as this was the recommendation from the owner. She is very adament to not have him go to Animal Ark. They have given a deadline of next week to faciliate this transfer, and if not, he will be euthanzied.”
First of all, since WHEN does an owner that has relinquished ownership of an animal to the city, have ANY say whatsoever on the outcome of that dog? They relinquish all rights when they sign that animal over to the city.
I called Best Friends in Utah regarding placing an animal in their care. While I did not speak with anybody directly, I learned that “Aggressive animals, especially dogs that pose a risk to other dogs, need to be housed individually. There is very limited individual housing for dogs at Best Friends, therefore, we are unable to accomodate most requests involving dog-aggressive dogs”, so what is the “treatment facility” that Mayor Tomlinson if referring to?
I have no doubt in my mind that the city employee’s have no problem sending Elijah to another kill-facility, if not the Mayor’s friends at PETA. As one citizen commented on facebook, “Can we trust the Mayors or ACC word? With everything that has happened in the past I do not believe a word our Mayor says. I, for one want to see pictures of Elijah in his current stage , pictures of him going to Utah better yet why not have our local tv station do a story on Elijah on his journey to his new destiny.”
I would not put it past our city leaders to send him off to the folks at PETA to be killed, after all that is what they do best. We know that PETA supports the Mayors stance against No Kill, they wrote her a letter telling her so. We know that PETA will take ANY animal, no matter what condition they are in, and we know that PETA kills 95% of the animals they take. Instead of releasing Elijah back into the care of the people that have nursed him back to life, who have shown him love and compassion, and who have shed tears watching him regain strength enough to wag his tail, the city presents two options. Either he is released to some “treatment facility” which they will not elaborate on further, or he will be killed.
The entire situation is so brazenly unjust. The city of Columbus needs to be held accountable, they need to start answering for their actions. If Elijah is killed, or if he dies in their care while a licensed Georgia rescue (incidentally, with a flawless inspection from the Department of Agriculture) was willing and able to save him, they will experience a public backlash that they have never seen before.
Help Free Elijah
Share this blog and the others to follow. Check back for related blogs and articles from other pet advocates, which will be added to the bottom of this one. Talk to people about what is happening in Columbus, Georgia. Elijah has seen so little compassion in his short life, he deserves so much more than this. As long as he survives, there is hope. He has a soul, unlike those people in charge of his fate, and he does not deserve to die simply because he was saved by a rescue that is bringing to light certain things that city officials wish to remain concealed from public scrutiny. Animal Ark Rescue stands tall and speaks loudly for the welfare of Columbus’ animals, and this is direct retaliation.
Sign the Free Elijah Petition. Help Free Elijah.
Here is a fairly comprehensive list of emails for the mayor, city management, city council, news stations, folks at the Ledger Enquirer and the Atlanta Journal & Consitution. Feel free to use any of them you’d like to express your displeasure with the current state of affairs at Animal Control and within the Mayor’s office.
***UPDATED as of 04/01/2012***
In another follow up blog referring to the article below, Columbus Mayor Tomlinson falsely claims that Georgia Humane Society supports her stance AGAINST No Kill efforts, declares “Pit bulls are very aggressive”, and mindlessly echos her pals at PETA, saying No Kill is “not in the animals best interest”. Check out Georgia Mayor ignorantly declares “Pit bulls are very aggressive” in local paper.
3/29/2012 – A disappointment to many, the Ledger-Enquirer released article, “Animal rights activists attack city over pit bull Elijah”
And shortly after, WTVM releases this segment,
***UPDATED as of 03/29/2012***
Elijah’s supporters are utilizing social media networks to share his story nationwide. Only days after the FREE ELIJAH facebook page was created, they have almost 1,200 “likes” (and growing) and have gained support from across the country. Happy Homes and their 5,000 fans have helped his story spread like wildfire, as more and more animal lovers chime in to voice their concern. This blog has been shared on facebook pages like Animal Advocate – Georgia (reaching over 1,800 people, being shared 24 times), No Kill Revolution (reaching almost 15,000 people), and The Patrick Miracle (reaching over 127,000 people, resulting in 63 likes and 172 shares), to name just a few.
3/26/2012 – I wrote one follow-up blog, City Officials Refuse to Release Elijah to the Rescue that Saved His Life *FREE ELIJAH*, which addresses some of your comments and concerns, and also presents the argument that the city’s decision to keep Ellijah from Animal Ark is based solely on retaliation for recent No Kill efforts that have placed the Animal Control facility under the eye of public scrutiny.
3/27/2012 – Columbus’ Ledger-Enquirer released this article, “Saving Elijah. So just who are the radicals?”
3/28/2012 – Elijah’s plea has gained national attention! The Journal of Humanitarian Affairs released this article, about Elijah’s lack of medical attention. “Ernest Dempsey — Wounds bring pain, and untreated wounds can be deadly. This is what the Columbus Animal Control in Georgia needs to know and take seriously as they are holding captive a dog in need of urgent treatment but is not being taken to a vet for getting the same.”
3/29/2012 – The Ledger-Enquirer printed another Editorial, No Response, about the lack of coverage on the situation at Columbus Animal Control, by the local newspaper.
For one Columbus citizens emotionally charged rant on the issue, read Dear Mayor… I think you’re the vicious one!
In ^^Business as usual kill, kill, kill, thank you Save A Pet!^^, my friend Meg puts her two cents in on the Mayor, Animal Control, and their killing spree.
The Lexus Project was looking into the situation, but after Columbus’ Mayor Teresa Tomlinson made this comment on her facebook page, claiming that Elijah would be send to a “treatment facility”, the Lexus Project said “as of right now we have no reason to believe he is in danger and unless you have proof he is slated to die, tlp can not become involved”. Still, we remained insistent, pleading with them to consider the fact that city officials have lied time and time again. Then, Mayor later deleted her own comment from her facebook page, and it seemed as if The Lexus Project was back on board.
The Mayor responded to inquiries yesterday with “Elijah has been getting care and has been placed with a special treatment facility.” however, later comments reveal that Elijah had not yet been placed, begging the question, does that woman even have a CLUE as to what she is talking about???
From the Lexus Project, “His own vet is very concerned about his legs. We spoke to him today. If his legs go septic from not being treated, he could lose his legs, if not his life.”. They then shared that they were “just informed that our Vet was able to see Elijah today and he is fine.”
A WTVM reporter had been interviewing those involved in Elijah’s case, and said that there would be a story airing on the news… perhaps it was when they contacted the Mayor that they pulled the plug and said instead, “WTVM is monitoring Elijah’s story. We will not be covering it today.”. One person replied “I hope WTVM doesn’t let Mayor influence FREE SPEECH“, another with “What a shame that the city of Columbus’ government rules the media with such an iron fist!”
Columbus citizens are “tagging” their cars, to show their support for Elijah’s safe release.