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February 16--  First term Toombs County Commissioner Skeeter Toole says he will not run for re-election this year. The Third District commissioner made the announcement at Tuesday's meeting of the county commission citing his upcoming retirement and desire to travel and pursue other interests.

Earlier in the meeting, the head of the Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society, Therisa Ingley, lamented the euthanization of five dogs by Toombs County and reminded commissioners of the public outcry when officials in Lyons killed 77 dogs in one day last year.

The Lyons Animal Shelter ceased accepting stray dogs from the county as of February 1 and the county chose to destroy three county dogs remaining in the Lyons shelter on January 27.  Two other Toombs dogs being housed in the Mount Vernon Animal Shelter were killed the same day.

Toombs County manager Doug Eaves had asked SOAPS 17 days before the killings if the organization could find any homes for the dogs in order to avoid their deaths.  At the time Ingley told Eaves SOAPS would see if any rescue or foster homes could be found.

Toombs County is now planning to open a county animal shelter and Commission Chairman Buddy West says the county plans to follow a policy of keeping animals at least ten days before they are put to death, or perhaps longer if there is shelter space or if the animal has been identified for rescue.

"We're going to follow the letter of the law.  Now, the letter of the law may not be to everyone's liking.   We've begun talks with Mrs. Ingley and SOAPS and we will have open dialogue as we get further along with our facility.  We welcome outside help and support," Chairman West said.

The county is seeking bids to build holding pens at one of its trash convenience centers.  Eaves says convenience center staff and county animal control personnel will share responsibility for taking care of the animals.

Ingley claims SOAPS relocated over 700 Toombs County dogs from the Lyons Shelter last year and believes the county's $70,000 budget for animal control is inadequate.  She urged the commission to adopt a mandatory spay-neuter policy for strays and to control backyard breeders whom she says contribute to the overpopulation problem in the county.

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Donna Lee (right) briefed commissioners on recent Red Cross responses to emergencies in the county and presented Red Cross volunteer William Walker with a certificate for exceptional service to the organization.