Madison County Opinion...

APRIL 23, 2003


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
April 23, 2003

Frankly Speaking
Don’t forget Confederate Memorial Day
Saturday, April 26, is a holiday in Georgia. I know it is because state offices will be closed and Georgia employees get holiday pay.
But just what holiday is it? You might have a problem finding out. Don’t bother to look on the calendars. It is not listed on any of them. Don’t bother checking the web pages of any major media. They never file any reports on the event.
It was different when I was a kid. April 26 was one of the biggest holidays on the calendar. There were pick-nicks, parades, politicians speaking, flags flying and holiday music throughout the South.
Ahh, there’s the clue. It is a Southern holiday, and things Southern are no longer to be honored. You never hear “Dixie” on the radio stations any more. People who fly the Southern Cross, the emblem on the ’56 Georgia flag, are all declared to be “racists.” If you express pride in your Southern heritage, you are looked on as some kind of freak.
April 26 is Confederate Memorial Day. It is still being celebrated, no matter how hard the major media try to ignore it. There will still be parades in places. Battle flags will still fly over cemeteries of Confederate dead. There will be speeches, living histories, re-enactments, concerts where “Dixie” will play to the sound of rebel yells, even an occasional politician will venture out to praise some local Confederate hero.
Even the campus we call “Boston South,” the University of Georgia, will have a Confederate display. It will be a very important display, even if it is hidden away on an upper floor of the main library. This Saturday, Confederate Memorial Day, is the only day of the year when you can see the original Confederate Constitution. This delicate, priceless document spends its time rolled in a lead-lined tube locked away in a heavy vault. Only on this special day is it unrolled and placed in a display case for public viewing.
There is no charge. Most of the day there will be no long lines. You will have no problems getting in to see it. I urge you to go take a look.
Many Constitutional scholars feel that the Confederate Constitution is an improvement over the Union document that supposedly controls our federal government. I say supposedly because the federal government has basically ignored the limits placed on it by the Constitution since the tragic defeat of the Confederate dream. That was what the war of 1861 was about. That and taxes, not slavery.
Although the media will not inform you of this holiday, you can let them know you know. Make sure your rebel flags are flying. Write letters to the editors. Call in to the radio talk shows and make your own announcements.
When you can find them, attend any public ceremonies in your area. For example, the United Daughters of the Confederacy will have a program in Commerce at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 27. They will appreciate your presence. So will I.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is frankg@mcga.net.

Column
By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
April 23, 2003

A Moment with Margie
Past time to talk about animal control
The Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter staff and board members have been inundated in the past few days with calls from people concerned about a convicted Barrow County puppy mill owner’s statement that she might bring her “business” to our county, or to Jackson County, where animal control regulations are “lax.” Here, she feels she would have far less trouble plying her trade of misery and suffering, all at the expense of the animals and those who purchase those animals from her.
Truth is, it appears she already has purchased land here and is housing some dogs on it.
Gloria Warner, for those of you who may not be familiar with the case, was convicted last week on animal cruelty and other charges after numerous officials testified to the horrendous state she kept the dogs and puppies she was breeding for profit.
It didn’t take her long to make good on her threat. And although she doesn’t have a state breeder’s license anymore, she may always claim she has those dogs for “pets” while she funnels their offspring to a relative in Jackson County, or who knows where, to offer them for sale. Zoning laws that prohibit her from having so many will help, as will diligence from the community and from those who care about animals. But that’s only because she’s the one we know about.
But surely no one can believe that Ms. Warner is the first or only one, by any means, who has thought of Madison County as a place without rules or regulations to protect animals or property owners.
And this brings me to the big question, how many of these so-called breeders are already established out here, where local animal ordinances are non-existent and where they feel relatively safe from the prying eyes of state officials?
The furor over Warner’s puppy mill, and the reactions of the public to it, remind me of other highly publicized cases, such as when an animal is burned or otherwise cruelly treated and the case is the focus of TV news and newspaper articles. Inevitably, hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people will call or write to express their outrage, money will pour in to cover medical costs and the animal has potential owners fighting over who will adopt it.
Meanwhile, in the same facility, hundreds of other animals who are in as much need of a home and care as this one, are neglected by the media and by the public. They live and die, quietly and virtually unnoticed, all for lack of a home of their own.
But that said, in this case the outrage over Warner’s cruelty and her move to our county provides an excellent time to highlight something a lot of us have known for years: we need animal control ordinances and local animal cruelty laws and we need them yesterday.
Local animal control ordinances that help protect citizens and pets alike are needed to give teeth to any state laws in a rural area such as ours.
Any local law enforcement officer will tell you that they have “all they can handle,” trying to deal with “people issues,” yet they are often called about stray, dangerous or abused dogs and sometimes even cats.
There is little they can do because although the county has contracted the services of the animal shelter for citizens to drop off stray and unwanted pets, there is no one authorized to pick up or capture wild or dangerous ones, and no laws to make the humans who own them “do the right thing” - by their pets, or by their neighbors.
And while the county has this brand new animal shelter, there is little the shelter can do on its own about this issue, except get the word out and educate, educate, educate.
Animal control and animal cruelty laws are a government issue; they must be brought into being by our elected officials and it’s up to their constituents to make them understand the importance of this issue.
Some towns in our county are trying to deal with animal control, but the county has taken no action to date on the matter.
For example, Comer has a leash law and a police department to enforce it.
And the tiny town of Hull is to be commended for their attempt to “take the bull by the horns” so to speak and look into the issue of animal control on their own, not only trying to figure out how to hire an animal control officer, but also how to implement animal cruelty laws, concerned about the welfare of all their residents, not just the two-legged ones. We could all take a lesson from that.
So while we chastise Ms. Warner, and rightfully so, remember, she is just the tip of the iceberg in an often cold, cold world for the creatures we share it with.
Let’s get busy in our little corner of it to help turn this around.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager of the Madison County Journal. She is also a member of the animal shelter’s board of directors.

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