Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

May 13, 2013

Meet animals’ best friend

VALDOSTA — Charles DeVane believes in giving animals a second chance at life after being neglected and left to die. A former 2005 member of the Valdosta Humane Society, DeVane began his animal-rescue program, BARC Humane Society, back in 2008.

“I saw an ad in the paper that people wanted to start a no-kill shelter but they did not have the proper paperwork,” DeVane said. “So I invited them to come and help. It was a one-man show for a while, now we have 30 active volunteers.”

BARC is a non-profit organization, dedicated to finding permanent homes for homeless cats and dogs living in the surrounding areas. Animals are rescued from various shelters and are placed in foster homes until they are adopted into a permanent environment.

“I rescued 600 dogs last year from death, 228 of them out of Quitman,” DeVane said. “I bring them in and give them TLC. My wife brings in five dogs everyday.”

DeVane focuses on rescuing animals with advanced psychological issues, ones that have been subdued to violence and often end up hand shy when approached by humans. His methods of love and compassion toward these animals relaxes them, making adoption a possibility.

“I get them out of the shelter, vetted, and into a foster home,” DeVane said. “I do a home visit before hand with the foster family and then do a follow up.”

As DeVane’s establishment continues to grow, he sought the help of Joe Paoletti in January, a Prevention of Animal Cruelty board member with the Humane Society of Valdosta/Lowndes County and a fellow animal-rescue advocate.

“Joe and I get together and cover both groups, so we don’t duplicate things,” DeVane said.

PAC is a collaborative effort amongst local animal rescue organizations and Lowndes County. Their goal is to bring awareness of animal cruelty by educating the community, reporting the situation, investigating, taking corrective action against offenders, using police enforcement, fostering and last adoption.

“It is a cooperative effort between us and BARC,” Paoletti said. “We educate in schools, grades fifth through eighth.”

DeVane and Paoletti have devoted their time and energy to raise awareness and deliver one common message to the community, that neglect is cruelty.

“I would like people to know how to treat an animal like they would treat themselves. I want everybody to be on the same page,” DeVane said.

According to the HB 409 Local Rule and Public Safety Issue fact sheet, the state of Georgia euthanizes approximately 300,000 shelter dogs and cats per year and 80,000 in the metro Atlanta area alone. There are also tethering ordinances passed to ensure public safety and decrease dog biting.

“The closer you chain a dog and the heavier the chain, the more mean they get,” Paoletti said. “They call them chain crazy and they become territorial. Most of the cases we see are neglect.”

Paoletti’s personal cases have been devastating to say the least. He has come across numerous misfortunes, including Bam Bam who was pulled from a residence due to neglect, Man who was chained and neglected, and Gus who was tied to a short leash and left to die on a clothesline.

Although the majority of animals rescued under BARC and PAC are dogs, other animals such as cats, horses and donkeys have been taken in due to neglect as well. However, the majority of difficulty begins during the fostering process with dogs and the type of breed of available.

“Pit bulls are very difficult to re-home. They get a bad reputation,” Paoletti said. “They are good dogs.”

Pit bulls are frequently used for dog fighting, an event that is becoming more common in our area. Although it is hard to track these particular groups, DeVane and Paoletti are working with local law enforcement to prosecute the ones responsible.

“In these dog fighting situations, you have drugs, firearms and prostitution,” Paoletti said. “We have one every other week in Lowndes County. We are trying to work with the county. We have to rely on the county to enforce. In rural areas, you’ll see more pit bull fighting.”

As DeVane continues to spread his message to the community, he hopes that people will begin to make a difference in the lives of animals in need.

“Ninety-five percent of people are against putting animals down but 95 percent of the animals are. It is not the sheIter workers' fault, it is the people’s fault for letting them breed,” DeVane said. “I used to breed dogs, then I got into this movement and realized I don’t need to bring any more trouble in. We need to take care of what we’ve got. BARC is committed to fostering an animal. We do a home inspection, make a contract, and if they ever want to give up the animal, they have to let me know.”

If you are interested in becoming involved in BARC, or would like to foster an animal, please visit www.barchumanesociety.org, or visit the Facebook page www.facebook.com/BARCHumaneSociety. For more information regarding animal cruelty, visit www.humanesociety.org.

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