by Denise Carey-Costa
On Monday December 19thth, 2016, just 6 days before Christmas, a plea went out on Facebook to save dogs and cats from the Fayette County Animal Shelter in Fayette, Alabama. The plea was sent out by shelter director Misti Bellar stating there were 22 dogs listed as “code red” and any dogs still at the shelter by noon on Christmas Eve would be euthanized based on regulations from the Fayette County Commissioners.
The County Commissioners in turn issued a rebuttal on Facebook stating the order to kill the animals was not true.
“We are receiving information that there is an article posted on a No Kill Coalition page saying all our pets will be euthanized at noon today. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Apparently, it is a shelter in another Fayette County in another state, but we have not read the article and do not know the circumstances. We understand everyone’s concerns but this is NOT our shelter. If anyone has questions about our operations, the best source is to always contact us directly and speak to staff members. We are always happy to discuss our shelter and what we do. Thank you!”
However, if you visit the Fayette Shelter’s website at:
http://fayettecountyal.org/animal/about.html, the homepage states the following:
“This shelter provides an opportunity for owners and pets to reunite as well as offer permanent homes to animals in need. However, this must occur within 7 days or the animal will be euthanized. Given these requirements we try to find homes before the deadline.”
On Wednesday, December 21st, 2016, County Commissioner Joe Acker stated Misti Bellar resigned because she knew the commission never directed her to euthanize any remaining animals. “Those dogs were not in danger of being euthanized,” Acker stated.
However, due to the cry for help sent out by Bellar all of the dogs were given a reprieve and either adopted or transported to other shelters. The Greater Birmingham Humane Society rescued ten of the dogs. Birmingham’s director Allison Cornelius stated their shelter can hold up to 750 animals at maximum capacity, and they were more than happy to make the drive to Fayette, Alabama to save as many dogs as they could.
Seven more were picked up by Rachel Waid with Sasha’s Hope and Rescue in Jasper. Waid said she worked with their network of foster families to find homes for the dogs after someone informed her of the situation in Fayette.
The remaining dogs were adopted by individuals who took advantage of Bellar’s holiday special, allowing people to adopt a dog for $20 during the Christmas season.
Although the county commissioners voted 4-1 to accept Misti Bellar’s resignation the Greater Birmingham Humane Society was saddened by this. They went on to describe Bellar as a hardworking, passionate, and caring person who did the best she could for the animals at the shelter.
Due to Bellar’s resignation the Fayette County Animal Shelter is temporarily closed to the public until January 10th, 2017 when the director’s position can be filled.
Although all of the dogs have left the shelter, eight cats remain there. Officials have confirmed the cats are being fed and well cared for.
The Greater Birmingham Humane Society has taken in ten of the Fayette Shelter dogs filling their shelter as well. They are currently asking for donations of food, towels, toys, blankets, and money to help with the influx of dogs.
For more information on the Greater Birmingham Humane Society and to see different ways to help please visit their website at: http://gbhs.org/.
About the Author
Denise Carey-Costa is a journalist, author, and award-winning documentary filmmaker. She was recently awarded the Best Producer Award from the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards for her latest film, Growing up with Hollywood (January, 2016). Her first film Tony’s Tale, Tragedy in Arizona (August 2014) was the winner of eight national film festival awards including several Audience Choice Awards. She has also written numerous children’s books promoting kindness and compassion for all creatures. Among her children’s books are A Tale of Three Tails, Edwin’s Flight, Lucky, and Angelina’s Angel. And her non-fiction piece Tony’s Tale Tragedy in Arizona. She lives in Orlando, Florida, where she works with local rescue shelters.