A citizen protest was held yesterday at the Douglas county courthouse. The protest was brought about as a means of hopefully asking the Douglas county board of commissioners to listen to the citizens of Douglas county and other concerned citizens and their concerns of the present direction of our animal shelter.
In previous attempts to communicate their concerns to the board of commissioners, the citizens of Douglas county and other concerned citizens have attempted to voice their grievances to the commissioners directly. However the commissioners have refused to listen to the people to this point on any level of communication, either via emails, at community meetings or via their direct appearances before the board.
Citizens have turned out and attended the last two most recent “chat with the chairman” town hall meetings with the commission chairman, only to be confronted with no more than lip service by the chairman in response to their grievances. Concerned citizens have attended the last three Animal Control Advisory Board meetings and each time they have been met with the same level of disinterest, inaction and lack of respect for their concerns by the ACAB chairwoman. At the last ACAB meeting, the chairwoman abruptly adjourned the meeting when citizens began talking after being ignored throughout the entire meeting and while being forced to endure the constant interruptions of the ride share lobby.
Two weeks ago eight concerned citizens took the time to come directly to the board of commissioners work session, hoping to voice their concerns directly to the entire board of commissioners. They were rebuffed by an inattentive board of commissioners and a county administrator who obviously were not listening to anything being said to them by the citizens present.
While citizens spoke of their direct and specific experiences involving the animal shelter and its new director and while they spoke of their concerns about the present animal services director, the commissioners and the county administrator kept their faces buried in their laptops and cell phone texting.
After placing every citizen speaker on an egg timer and cutting them off at three minutes, the county commission chairman told those present that he felt that all of the concerns raised had been addressed by the board of commissioner’s press release issued on February 14th. Chairman Worthan followed that up by asserting the the board of commissioners and each of the commissioners on the board supported that press release.
Yesterday, over thirty individuals came to the courthouse at 10AM in the morning and formed a ring around the outside front of the courthouse sidewalk with protest signs with a message for the board of commissioners. These citizens were asking to be heard by the Douglas county board of commissioners. These citizens are also asking the citizens of Douglas county and Georgia to take note of what is presently occurring in our county.
Other citizens came to the steps outside the courthouse to bring their messages and their desire to be heard by their elected officials. Everyone remained on site until 12:30 PM. None of the commissioners ever ventured out to address the citizens or their concerns during the entire morning, opting instead to have their communications director address media inquiries.
The messages being delivered by citizens yesterday, were messages of a unified voice of the community. The messages were relatively simple: “Listen to the people.” Citizens who were present at the courthouse yesterday, agreed on two main points during their protest. First, they asked that their grievances be heard and responded to by their board of commissioners and second, they called for the replacement of the present animal services director with someone who is capable of managing our shelter by providing modern and progressive leadership and someone who is willing to work with the community.
These citizens asked for leadership at our shelter that focuses on animal welfare combined with respect for the citizens of Douglas county and their concerns. The citizens of Douglas county present at yesterday's protest also called for the immediate replacement of the present director’s antiquated philosophies. Specifically, his complete abandonment of established and proven animal welfare and volunteer programs and his stated intentions to increase enforcement efforts against citizens and companion animals in Douglas county. These actions are in conjunction with his stated desires of expanding the authority of Douglas county animal control over the citizens and companion animals of Douglas county.
Hopefully, the board of commissioners and others in county government will soon begin to listen to the messages brought forth to them yesterday by concerned citizens and citizen advocates who are asking for a modern and progressive animal shelter in Douglas county. Either the people of Douglas county and those who have actively supported our animal shelter in the metro area and across the region will be heard and afforded the courtesy of respect for their desires by their elected officials, or these citizens and animal advocates will continue to bring their concerns before the public in the form of protests and any other legal means of addressing their concerns to our elected officials who to date have refused to listen to them.