"There's no oversight": Tennessee, Georgia lack laws requiring inspections of kennels
Recent reports of animal neglect have left many in our area with a burning question: How could this happen?
NewsChannel 9 is uncovering why animal abuse in Tennessee and Georgia could go unreported.
We first told you about a local animal cruelty investigation last week, when veterinarians say dozens of dogs were starved and neglected at Kinder Dog Training. Dalton Police served a warrant to search the owner's home, and found 16 more dogs who they say had been neglected. Stephen Kinder took his own life after the search.
After sifting through Tennessee and Georgia laws, we discovered that there's no law in either state requiring inspections of dog boarding and training facilities.
That means abuse or neglect could go under the radar until a violation is reported.
When you go to a restaurant like Naked River Brewing, you'll find the health department's report card hung in an 8" by 10" frame. It's required by law to have the health department regulate restaurants.
But for animal boarding and training facilities, there's no law requiring inspections. That means there's no agency - besides the people running the business - that physically see what's inside to make sure basic standards are met.
According to Georgia and Tennessee's animal protection laws, city or state leaders have the authority to inspect a kennel if they believe animals are being mistreated. They can get a warrant if there's evidence to believe there's a violation.
"Unless someone complains, no one comes in. That's the problem, there's no oversight," says Bob Citrullo, Director of the Humane Educational Society in Chattanooga.
Director Citrullo says anyone could claim to be a 'dog trainer.' "It's really the customers' responsibility to make sure this is a solid company," he says.
Citrullo has worked with animals in several states. He says some states require experts to inspect all boarding facilities once a year. They must pass a test before their business license can be renewed.
"Someone is going out to inspect them, and we just don't have that here," he says.
Citrullo wants to see that type of proactive approach, rather than waiting for a violation.
HES says in Georgia, the Department of Agriculture will inspect animal shelters once a year. That's to renew their business license.
According to HES, that is not required in Tennessee.
Experts recommend asking for a walk through of the facility. They say make sure you ask to see where the dogs will be housed.
If a company hesitates or will not show you, they say that's a red flag.