Boggs Mountain Humane Shelter hoping for a second chance - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Boggs Mountain Humane Shelter hoping for a second chance

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RABUN COUNTY, Ga. -

The Boggs Mountain Humane Shelter board of directors admit that they didn't do their job after a FOX 5 I-Team investigation caught the shelter manager secretly allowing the killing of dogs she promised would be adopted.

But those same board members tell FOX 5 I-Team reporter Randy Travis they're hoping the public will give them a second chance.

Ever since that director has been fired, the board says there's a new motto in their building: transparency.

"We love this place. We've got so much invested and we've got to fix it. We've got to fix it. We have to go on," said vice-chairman Kirk Knous.  

Chairman Danny Benson and Knous say they've heard FOX 5 viewers loud and clear. Their phones blew up as soon as the undercover investigation hit the airwaves.

The I-Team investigation caught the Rabun County shelter director Peanut Kilby deceiving people looking for a safe place to surrender a pet they could no longer keep. Not only did she promise Boggs Mountain was a no-kill shelter, she stressed the shelter's Lucky Dog program -- where for at least $100, you could guarantee your dog or cat would be placed in a good home.

Yet since May, the strictly no-kill shelter killed more than 100 dogs or cats surrendered by their owner,  including at least a dozen of those so-called Lucky Dogs.

And even worse, some of those original owners still got e-mails or cards from Boggs telling them their Lucky dog was now in a wonderful home.

Board members say it shocked them as well.

"I was totally blown away by the story," said Benson.

"Every animal that's euthanized is heart-wrenching for me. So it's very disappointing. That's not why we raised have hundreds of thousands of dollars, why I have thousands of hours invested in volunteer time here," said Knous.

Last week the board unanimously voted to fire Kilby and close Boggs until they can do their own investigation. The GBI has started a criminal probe.

For the million dollar facility with state-of-the-art air conditioning and a record of rescuing 10,000 animals in the last decade, the crash has come hard.

"The buck stops all the way back to the board. And again, we're here to take responsibility for those actions and find out exactly what happened and go forward," said Benson.

Benson promised that no animals would be put to death as long as he's there.

"I think we're in the process of trying to figure out what we are and how we can go forward," said Benson.

For the last week, board members and other volunteers have spent hours at the shelter cleaning and caring for the 89 animals still there.

One question they must answer: who else here knew about the deception?

Lynne Cousins is the sole Boggs employee who tipped us off. She worked at the desk handling intake at the shelter. Cousins says she tried twice to warn former board president Penny Burkitt about director Kilby and one final time when she was asked to resign after we showed up asking questions.

"I told her that fraud was being committed, that we were taking money for Lucky Dogs, euthanizing those dogs and then sending people notices that the animals had been adopted and rescued…Her response was 'Oh my God. I didn't know that,'" said Cousins.

But Benson and Knous say Burkitt told them nothing and no investigation was even started until a week later -- after our reports began airing. Burkitt has not returned our calls.

Cousins admits that she filled out the deceptive cards and e-mails. She said she did it to keep her job.

But now neither Cousins nor her husband Glenn have a job at Boggs and the new board chairman says there are no plans to rehire either of them.

"I'm glad that she came forward and brought this to light. And that's the only thing I can comment about Lynne at this point because she's part of the investigation also," said Benson.

Many of those Lucky Dog donations came in the form of cash. Board members say their policy was to have two signatures on every receipt. Yet one Lucky Dog donor showed us his receipt with only one signature. Another dog owner paid $500 cash to be in the Lucky Dog program.

Knous said the board is investigating to see if those funds were deposited into the shelter's bank account.

They've also started researching their euthanasia records for anyone who calls in wondering if their dog or cat was really adopted. They're offering refunds for any donors whose pet was actually killed.

But after our investigation went viral, Boggs donations plummeted. They say they only have enough savings to stay open another three or four months.

"I'm concerned that we'll have to announce in a month or two that we're permanently closed…We need regular donations," said Knous.

One of Boggs's biggest donors asked for a refund on Thursday.

Meanwhile, two investigators from the Internal Revenue Service are helping GBI agents with the case.

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