County blames volunteers for county staff failures on botched new animal shelter


I urge each and every county citizen to pay attention to the new animal shelter and how it is handled. Even if you have no particular interest in animal welfare, you should care about the $3.2 million (+) and how it was spent.

The following were comments I made during public comment addressing the Fayette County Board of Commissioners on 9 May 2024. (The meetings are recorded and available on the BoC page link.)

Great leaders shine the light on others when things go right.

Great leaders accept blame when things go wrong.

What we witnessed at the previous BoC meeting (23 April) was a staff member throwing volunteers, advocates, and community members under the blame bus. Commissioners then endorsed this shared blame by praising the staff member.

Volunteers and advocates were blamed for not showing up at hearings. Did any commissioner or staff reach out to any of the shelter volunteers, leaders of rescues, or advocates to make them aware? Volunteers and advocates were blamed for not finding flaws in the blueprints for the new shelter. Did anyone bother to share them and ask for input?

You referenced pre-Covid weekly meetings at the shelter with Jerry. It was not considered a forum for animal advocacy. It was made abundantly clear that an animal welfare committee was not wanted and now you try to lay partial blame at the feet of volunteers and advocates?!

The community never asked for a new shelter; they asked for improvements at the old shelter. Given the undesirable location of the new shelter, PTC came out well ahead on the land swap. However, the community was hopeful when the announcement was made to build a new shelter, not realizing the emphasis would be on appearance and not functionality.

You were elected and salaried to represent your constituents. You have paid staff who should be responsible for doing the due diligence, making sure project details meet current standards. It is not the voters’ job to evaluate and oversee projects from concept to completion, especially given the commissioners’ and staff’s lack of desire to collaborate with an animal advocacy committee.

After they saw the new shelter with its obvious inadequacies, those interested in animal welfare easily located published kennel size standards and searched publications on the kennels installed, finding that they were recommended for smaller dogs in temporary situations like grooming salons and vet clinics.

They also located subject matter experts on shelter design willing to provide advice. Why didn’t the commissioners and/or staff search for these resources when the project began? Could it be that, like the food for shelter animals that is not funded in the shelter’s budget, the county expectation has become that the volunteers and community will pull together to provide what is needed?

Leaders who deliver look for the best solutions.

Leaders who divide look for someone to blame.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Lynne Lasher

Peachtree City, Ga.


  1. County has now missed 3 (May 17, 24, 31) of the 6 dates that Dr. Staci Cannon DMV,MPH offered as dates she was available to visit our shelter AT NO CHARGE to taxpayers. (There will be a cost associated with a future service program to be offered by UGA Vet School for experts to visit and evaluate.) June 7, June 28, and July 5 are the only ones left on the table under the pro bono offer!
    Why is it important to have Dr. Cannon visit? She is one of the authors of the manual for guidelines for shelter care; she is a national expert! You would think the county would be thrilled and take advantage of her generous (time-sensitive) offer. The commissioners need to set their egos aside and arrange Dr. Cannon’s visit.

  2. Management and officials should always consider industry standards and consult the users for any proposed projects.
    Example: I worked in IT for a large Atlanta airline that built an expensive computer facility in the early 1980’s… because management did not consult the users or consider certain industry standards. it ended up being less efficient and functional.

  3. Well said, Lynn! I am a volunteer with the Fayette Humane Society and faithfully attended the monthly meetings held by the Director of Animal Control prior to the construction of the new shelter. The new shelter was NEVER an agenda item. When we would ask questions, no one seemed to have answers.

    Subsequent to the Commissioner’s meeting you mention, I turned to the presidents of two other local rescue groups to see if any of their leaders or volunteers had been asked to provide input on the new shelter’s design. They said no.

    After the Commissioner’s meeting I sent an email to the City Manager and copied the BOC members, asking if they could commit to creating a task force in the future when a building was being designed for a specific segment of the community (youth; seniors; animals; whatever). That task force would be comprised of people representing end users of the facility–people who would have insight into what would work and what wouldn’t. They would have input from the get-go when working with end users of the building, architects, contractors, etc. Two subsequent email exchanges were volleyed back in forth and I could not get anyone to commit to the task force idea.

    We thus have no assurance in the future that any lessons have been learned. Very disappointing.

    • I can’t speak about the Animal Shelter; I have no clue how the County handles it. I can speak about the reason Commissioners and Councilmembers do not take the time to form committees of volunteers and staff to work on specific projects. It’s messy, takes time, and often is more work for staff. Besides, it’s become obvious Councilmembers do not need our input; that’s why they have staff. Just ask them to show you what they have done with citizen input. I encountered a Councilmember Saturday morning at Bulldog Supply. Do you think they wanted to make eye contact or say good morning? No siree!

    • Mar77: They pretend the shelter build was a topic at Jerry’s meetings, but we all know it wasn’t. Thank you for publicly confirming. They pretend the advisory group Steve Brown met with was their committee. We all know that group (2017) was focused on the ordinance revisions and TNVR. Mr. Brown was the only commissioner meeting with the group. The other four and the county administrator did not want an animal advisory committee and the group was never sanctioned/approved by the Board of Commissioners.
      Doug Tucker: Building an animal shelter has unique requirements if it is to be humane, sanitary, and promote animal welfare leading to healthy, adoptable dogs and cats. I guess staff considered themselves experts and the resulting mess is what we have to show for it.

    • It was the county administrator. The four commissioners present (Gibbons was absent that meeting) signaled their agreement with throwing the citizens under the blame bus by praising the administrator for his words in response to public comment. In the end, it doesn’t matter what the administrator said, he is their employee and they are responsible for what he says and does. The buck stops on their desks!