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February 1--  The Lyons city council apologized publicly Tuesday night for the mass killing of 77 dogs at the city pound on January 20th.

{mosimage}The largest crowd to attend a city council meeting in recent history heard city councilman Wayne Hartley admit the mistake. "In retrospect, there were other more preferable methods to handle the situation we were facing concerning the population of abandoned animals.  We regret these actions and lack of judgement on this date concerning the animals under our control," Hartley said. 

Hartley announced formation of a committee which will include at least one member from the Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society to help reform the city's animal control policies and procedures.

The head of SOAPS, Therisa Ingley, said the organization has saved some 500 animals from the Lyons pound in the last two years and expects action to allow more to be saved.{mosimage}

"Promises are easily made, but words meant very little to the 77 aniimals which were killed on January 20th.  SOAPS and those here tonight represent those 77 dogs and now expect action to insure the humane care of the animals which come into the care of the city of Lyons," she said.

One member of the audience claimed dogs have been shot at the pound because she said one employee told her, "A bullet is cheaper than a shot."

Others asked that city public works director Darel Corley be fired, but got no response from council members.  Corley was not present in the council chambers, but a reporter said he was in an adjoining conference room.  A member of the audience defended Corley and said he made a mistake by not euthanizing any animals since last July which led to overpopulation at the shelter.  City councilman Willis NeeSmith said a mistake was made, but no laws have been broken.

Therisa Ingley is not so sure.  "I am pleased to a certain degree that they were at least willing to admit there was very, very poor judgement that bordered on, in my opinion, animal cruelty.  I don't think there were a lot of answers to questions that people still have.  I think the people here, including members of SOAPS, are still angered and upset and concerned because we can't get those answers and the future still remains uncertain.  However, I hope all of us will pull together for the good of the animals and that the legal questions will be handled," she said.

{mosimage}SOAPS volunteer Holly Reynolds explains dogs identified for adoption Wednesday were killed Thursday at the Lyons pound.

The council received an online petition criticizing Lyons from a thousand people from all over the country and some from overseas.

Meanwhile, Ingley says she expects Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black to visit Toombs County next week.

As of Tuesday, the Lyons pound had 16 new dogs and officials say there are no plans for euthanization.