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April 20--  A complaint to the Georgia Department of Agriculture about the Lyons Animal Shelter has been traced to the Laurens Humane Society in Dublin. 

The March 17 email from Laurens Director Irene Sumner prompted a state inspection of the Lyons Shelter March 28 which found no evidence of the claims made in the complaint.

However, the complaint rubbed city officials in Lyons the wrong way and was partially responsible for a change in city direction regarding the Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society, according to city council member Wayne Hartley.

Hartley and councilman Willis NeeSmith drafted new city operating procedures for the Lyons shelter after the mass killing of 77 dogs at the shelter in January. A second draft of the proposal is now pending city council approval and contains a prohibition against SOAPS vounteers doing any work at the shelter without city supervision.  Previously, SOAPS personnel were allowed to clean the shelter and care for the animals on weekends.

Sumner says she sent the email to notify state officials that their inspector Tommy Sheffield was being taken to task for his work in the aftermath of the Lyons killings.  Her email included numerous allegations posted on the Internet by Southern Comfort Rescue in Glenwood.

"I run a shelter and I know how delicate the situations can be between a county, a city and non-profit organizations, but when I see all this crap, excuse my French, being put out there on websites slandering people, it gets pretty frustrating for me.  When that email came across slandering state officials, I thought they needed to know what the heck was going on," Sumner said.

Sumner she's sorry for any impact her email had on relations between Lyons and SOAPS.

Meanwhile, SOAPS CEO Therisa Ingley is hopeful a good working relationship with Lyons can be restored, "I want them to know we did not send the email and are sorry Lyons is getting so much negative publicity over events down there.  We were pleased with the efforts that were being made to work out the situation and we hope that can be restored."

Councilman Hartley says he thinks the city council will standby the most recent changes to the draft operating procedure regardless of who send the email complaint to state officials.

Meanwhile, Southern Comfort Rescue has been inspected in the aftermath of a fire early this month.  The Department of Agriculture says no more animals may be brought into the facility until further notice and the facility is not to be used without permission from the state.

State officials say the "Stop Order (stop movement/stop use)" order was issued April 13 and will remain in effect until released by the Department of Agriculture.  The license for the facility allows for the care of up to 80 animals and expires July 31.