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FOLLOW UP: Letter to the Editor: Humane Society President Accused of Stealing Dog

Lance White, president of the Humane Society of Forsyth County, tells his side of the story.

Update: Friday, March 8, 7:54 a.m.

It has been more than two weeks since Lance White, president of the Humane Society of Forsyth County, wrote his "Letter to the Editor" to Cumming Patch. Since publication of the letter we heard from more than 100 readers in Forsyth County and across the U.S. who had plenty to say about the situation.

During a brief conversation with Lance, he told me that no action has been taken against him from the woman who accused him of stealing her dog (mentioned in the letter to the editor). Since the week of Feb. 18, Lance told me that the woman and her male dog (pictured) has since left the residence, where Lance found the tethered dog, to an unknown location. In the meantime, the female dog Lance rescued remains at the Humane Society shelter off Keith Bridge Road in Cumming. She will be getting spayed when she is ready and eventually will be up for adoption.

Lance also told me that he is currently gathering support to propose a non-tethering law in the county to the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners. Stay with Cumming Patch for developments.

Liz Kennedy
Editor, Cumming Patch

Original Article:

CUMMING, GA -- Dear Editor,

I am the president of the Humane Society of Forsyth County.

On Monday February 18, 2013 I was contacted by Angela Watkins that lives in the Evergreen Apartments at Aubrey's Landing. She had found a female pit bull that still looked like she was nursing puppies. The puppies were nowhere to be found. I decided to put a leash around her neck to see if she would lead us to her puppies or possibly her home.

The Pit Bull we now call Aubrey took Mark Schullstrom and Tiffani Rassel (two volunteers for HSFC) down Hutchinson Road, then across Castleberry Road down Tolbert Street to the neighborhood on the left, Cherokee Chase. Aubrey took them right to the front door of the right side of a duplex. A Hispanic man came out and took the female Pit from them.  Mark and Tiffani were waiting at the top of the street for me and Brendan Kelly (another volunteer of HSFC) to pick them up. Once we arrived at the end of the street I asked Mark if he questioned him about possibly letting us spay her? Mark and Tiffani were so shocked that the dog led them back to her house they forgot about asking if we could help to get her spayed, so I said lets go back and see.

We walked up on the right side of the duplex and knocked on the door. There was no answer but we heard voices coming from the back yard. I walked around the backside of the house and tried to speak to the gentlemen that were having afternoon cocktails by a fire pit. I asked where the dog was and he pointed toward the woods. After a minute, I realized that he meant that she was tied up in the woods of an undeveloped subdivision behind the duplex. I walked back into the woods and saw the female pit tied up to a small makeshift doghouse. I asked him how she had gotten off of her chain? He said that she did not get off the chain that he had given her away. I then said well if you want to give her away I will take her. He said good because the landlord told all the tenants that they had to get rid of all the pit bull dogs.

I was trying to get the chain to release from the female pit's neck and heard a dog barking and crying further into the woods. I started walking towards the dog's cries for help. I came up on a gray male pit bull that was tangled up in his chain that was being used as his restraint. He was tethered to a doghouse and was tangled in a couple of small trees. The dog we now call Tolbert could not move six inches either way. I turned and asked the Hispanic man if I could have this dog also. He said yes. The Hispanic man started to untangle the dog and he unlocked the locks to release the dog. (The dog had large pad locks on the chain around his neck to secure the tethering chain.) AS I was taking Tolbert the gray pit away I saw another dog and asked him if I could have it also. It was a large black male lab. He declined to give me that dog.  I gave him my card so that he would have my number in case they needed help in getting the male lab neutered and/or if he changed his mind about giving me the dog.

About three hours later a lady called me and said I hear you have my dog. I asked her to describe the dog. After a perfect description I said, yes I have your dog. She asked if she could get him back that night? I had just dropped of the dog at a boarding facility located on the north end of the county and I was almost home which is located on the south end of the county, plus the facility was closed by the time she called me. I told her I could not pick up the dog until the morning. She said how early could she get the dog? I stated that I could have it [to her] by 8 a.m. The owner said that was too early for her. I then said that I have appointments at 10:30 and 11:30 at my jewelry store, so I could not get the dog to her until 12:30 or 1 p.m.

She agreed then we started chatting and I asked why he was way out in the woods. She told me they were hiding the dogs from the landlord. I asked why she did not keep the dog in the house when she was gone. Her reply was that he tears up the house and that she cannot afford to get a $500 crate. I told her that if giving her a crate would get the dog off the tether then I would give her a $200 crate. She was happy and even said she was glad she had met me. Even laughing that sometimes things happen for a reason. We hung up the phone and then she called me back about 20 minutes later and stated that she had forgot she has a doctor's appointment in Norcross at 1 p.m. She could not meet me until sometime in the evening and asked me how late could I meet her? I said the latest that I could meet would be 8 p.m. I then told her to call me when she was finished with her doctor's appointment and we would set a time to meet from that call.

On Tuesday morning at 10:30 I received a text from her demanding that I give her the dog right then. I told her that I was still at my appointments. The owner stated that she did not care she wanted her dog now. I finished my meetings then drove to get the dog. On the way back with the dog I contacted her and asked her to meet me at animal control. I wanted a witness that she was getting the dog back. I walked in and did not realize that she (dog owner) was already in the office with animal control. She told them that I had stolen her dog. She stated that I had entered her property and took the dog off its chain. Therefore stealing the dog.

The animal control officer Lieutenant Waters came in to interview me. He did not want to hear my side of the story, he just kept cutting me off. Mr. Waters told me that I was not Animal Control and to quit acting like I was. He said that he knew what he would do if I had come onto his property and stole his dog. He said he would have me arrested. Mr. Waters stated we will see what she decides.

The dog’s owner did make an incident report with the City of Cumming Police, Officer C. Cook. It will now go before the Magistrates Court of Forsyth County to see if the judge feels that there is just cause to press charges against me.  

I thank you for letting me voice my side of the story. I feel that if our county had an anti-tethering law that states an exact time limit instead of saying primary restraint this would have never happened. People would have complained about the dog being tied up before I ever found the dog. The Animal Control officers and the attorneys for the county tell me that the meaning of Primary Restraint in the current anti-tethering law is that you can have a dog on a tether for 12 hours (half the day). Primary would mean more than half the day so one minute over the 12 hours and they would be breaking the law. But there is no way to monitor this 12:01 law (Primary Restraint). The only way to change this is to change the law. Please write or call your Forsyth County Commissioner and tell them we want stronger anti-tethering laws.

Lance White
President
Humane Society of Forsyth County

Editor's Note: The opinion(s) expressed here are those of the writer and not of Cumming Patch. If you have something to share send liz.kennedy@patch.com a "Letter to the Editor."

Judy Roskamjudydahlonega February 24, 2013 at 04:12 PM
I agree with Carol ! Animal Control Officers need to spend more time at the shelters. This whole thing needs to be about animal abuse, not who did what. I can tell you that I would have done exactly what Lamce did and I promise you that I still will
Allison Verhoven February 25, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Mr. White, you write: "Please take her race out of the equation. This is not a Race issue, this is an issue of the citizens of Forsyth County allowing the animals in this county to be mistreated." If this is the case, why did you need to mention that the people involved were Hispanic (at least 3 times in your letter) in the first place? Would you have written "The Irish/German/Welsh/Hungarian-fill-in-the--blank-with a-white -nationality" if a Caucasian was involved? Take the race OUT? Mr. White, you brought it IN !
r patton February 25, 2013 at 04:58 PM
All this boils down to is....................... "What goes 'round, comes 'round".
Robin Asscher March 03, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Why does it matter if they are Hispanic? ......and Mexico is NOT a third world country!
Robin Asscher March 03, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Forsyth county is filled with racists. I am thoroughly disgusted with Mr. White and the comments from the people on this forum. If Mr. White is an honorable man he will resign as President of the Forsyth County Humane Society and issue a public apology to the owner of the dog that he stole. Mr. White deserves to be behind bars.
A. L. Milton March 03, 2013 at 10:11 PM
Oh my goodnesss. Animal control in these southern counties does not protect the animal. The people who work animal control are not animal lovers...this is a minimum pay job with no skills required. I live in SC, and have called animal control so many times, to find they do nothing to help the dogs. Last year I saw a dog who was chained up in 105 degree heat, with no shade as protection and her water was scorching hot to the touch, and there was a bucket for food whichhad maggots in it, so I called animal control, and they did absolutely nothing, saying there was no law against chaining an animal....I was livid. I tried to buy the dog from the woman but she was ticked I had called animal control and would not sell it to me, so a week later I sent my husband ( she did not know we were related) t o buy this dog. he got it for $200. She said she sold because a crazy woman kept trying to save it....that would have been me. Lady is an 80 lb lab/chow mix, and sleeps in the bed with us...we love her so much, and she joins her 3 sisters who we got the same way..as long as the $$ lasts , we will do this, but bottom line, we should not have to, if animal control did their job, which they don't!
A. L. Milton March 04, 2013 at 03:48 PM
Oh my God! You must be kidding.... I hope you don't own a dog. You think it is ok to leave a dog on a chain to spend it days tied up in the woods with only 6 inches to move in either direction? The person who did this to this dog is the one who should be in jail! God bless Mr. White and the citizens of Forsyth County for their public outcry. I do not live in your area, but beware citizens and dogs alike....this woman whose post I am replying to.. does!
A. L. Milton March 04, 2013 at 03:57 PM
THIS IS NOT ABOUT RACE..WHITE...BLACK.... HISPANIC OR OTHERWISE. IT IS ABOUT ANIMAL ABUSE...PLEASE USE ANOTHER FORUM TO DISCUSS YOUR RACE ISSUES.....BY THE WAY...BLACK PEOPLE DO LIVE IN FORSYTH COUNTY...GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT, AND TAKE A SPELLING COURSE.
r patton March 04, 2013 at 10:37 PM
When was the last time you were in Mexico?
r patton March 04, 2013 at 10:40 PM
Lets not forget, the Forsyth Co Animal Control does euthanize animals. Forsyth Humane Society DOES NOT. Mr. White saved those dogs from the Forsyth Animal Control.
r patton March 04, 2013 at 10:41 PM
He was fired.
Carol Vincent March 05, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Robin, first of all, calling a Mexican a Mexican is in no way racist. What else are you going to call a person from Mexico. I have neighbors who are Mexican, they call themselves Mexican and I call them Mexican because that's what they are. They are absolutely wonderful neighbors and I feel fortunate to have them. Second, you sound to me like a person who has no concern for the treatment of animals and I pray no animal has the misfortune to have you as a master. Instead of bashing him without knowing him you should volunteer at the humane society for a while and see for yourself what good Lance White does. On second thought perhaps you shouldn't be allowed around the animals, "there ain't no cure for stupid".
The Truth March 05, 2013 at 08:17 PM
99% of all these offensive comments are incorrect. im positive lance has his story all wrong and is changing his story over and over. Shame on you!
Allison Verhoven March 06, 2013 at 01:57 PM
Carol Vincent writes :" I have neighbors who are Mexican, they call themselves Mexican and I call them Mexican because that's what they are" Say, Carol....Why don't you just call them wonderful neighbors? Isn't that the most important description?
Lance White March 11, 2013 at 12:33 AM
Well you must not know anything about Forsyth County Georgia. The Animal Control department only works Monday thru Friday 9am -5pm. They do not take calls after 5pm. That is why I did not call animal control. Re read the story and this time think what would you do. thank you Lance White
Lance White March 11, 2013 at 12:36 AM
Mike the two animal control officers that were mentioned in my letter have since been terminated from their duties on the police force and animal control. They are saying it was unrelated to this case. Thanks just and FYI . Lance White President of the Humane Society of Forsyth County.
Lance White March 11, 2013 at 12:40 AM
The two animal control officers in this case were terminated fro their jobs. They are claiming that it was not related to this case. Lance White President of the Humane Society of Forsyth County. Thank you for caring.
Lance White March 11, 2013 at 12:45 AM
I am not that Ranger, I am not some wild radical running around going to save every dog. I only came up on this one dog and was willing to help him. I also have 4 other people that can back my story. Crazy but it is all true. Sorry about your Ranger he should be stopped. Lance White
Lance White March 11, 2013 at 12:48 AM
Thank You Carol, Lance White
Lance White March 11, 2013 at 01:10 AM
Allison Verhoven, I had to think about what you said for a long time. I asked myself why did I describe the man as Hispanic? The only reason I can think is that I was trying to say that we had a language barrier. I really meant nothing about that it was a race issue. Several months ago I was involved in another county problem and the person accused was (a Hispanic man) one that I know well, because he is my landscaper for over 3 years. He was wrongly accused of stealing a large Eagle statue. He was arrested and I bailed him out of jail. What I am trying to say that I spoke wrong and I am sorry that I offended you in any way. Race to me was not an issue. Just the language barrier, I do not speak spanish. I will have to watch that in the future. Please tell me or explain to me the proper way I should have explained this issue. You are the one that said I was wrong for bringing it in. Please explain how i should have handled the issue. Thank You Lance White
Lance White March 11, 2013 at 01:20 AM
Robin Asscher I can tell that you do not live in Forsyth County now. You really need to come and visit. We have a county that now has many races. I can go out to dinner and one table is speaking spanish, then the next table is speaking German, etc. You are reading old out dated files and news articles on Forsyth County Georgia. The only thing currently out dated here is our Animal Control Laws. They are dated from the 1970's and need to change. Please come and visit our county, then you will be the one making a public apology to our residents of Forsyth County.
Lance White March 11, 2013 at 01:23 AM
The Truth is that I am writing as myself and you my friend are hiding behind the title of THE TRUTH. Shame on you! My story has not and will not change. Lance White
Lance White March 11, 2013 at 01:33 AM
Allison Verhoven Carol Vincent was using her term "Mexican" to explain that many people do not have a problem as to what race they are. Many people embrace their heritage and want to tell people about the customs, religion, etc. They are proud of where they come from. I am so sorry that you have had to live with such hate in your community. Please we are fine in our Community with the race issues. I only hope that one day you can overcome this reverse racism that seems to overtaken you. Lance White President of the Humane Society of Forsyth County.
Allison Verhoven March 11, 2013 at 04:25 PM
Mr. White, Thank you for reading my comments and your responses. Also thanks for speaking on Carol Vincent's behalf. You asked how you should have handled the "language barrier" situation (that has conveniently surfaced now). I don't think there would have been any reason to make mention of this since you and the people involved seemed to be communicating just fine. People should embrace their own heritage and respect other cultures. It's PEOPLE first, nationality second---we are AMERICANS of different backgrounds. My community is not filled with hate...rather we have a love for each other as human beings and members of the HUMAN race. We celebrate each others' cultures and customs and we embrace each other for being one with the members of mankind. Reverse racism? Hardly. I can see through all this babble...and I know exactly what it really means (even if you are pretending not to know). Mr. White, there's an old saying..."when you're in a hole...stop digging."
A. L. Milton March 11, 2013 at 05:54 PM
I live in Oconee County, SC, and we have an organization called Freedom Fences, a tax exempt 501 organization, started by a concerned citizen, made up of volunteers from the community and donations from the concerned citizens. They go out and build fences for these chained doggies. It is not ideal, because the dogs still get diseases such as heartworms because the owners do not give them preventative medicines, which is a horrible death, but it is better than them being on the end of chains. The organization also tries to educate the public about the horrors of chaining, but I believe that either you have a heart that knows cruelty when you see it, or you don't and no amount of "education" can help that...No one had to tell me that it is cruel to chain a dog...my stomach automatically turns at the very sight of it. There is no law yet in Oconee County SC against chaining, but we are diligently working toward that goal. If you live in a county that still allows chaining dogs, you may want to start an organization similar to this one....again it is better than chaining the dogs, and Freedom Fences does follow up on the health and welfare of the dogs, and also works in conjunction with volunteer vets who offer free /reduced spay and neuter services. Just google Freedom Fences/Oconee South Carolina. We can surely use donations.
A. L. Milton March 11, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Well, Allison, considering 99.99 % of the comments in these letters to the editor are in favor of Mr. White, and not in favor of your position/agenda........ then I think you are the one who should stop digging....just saying!
Lance White March 12, 2013 at 04:16 AM
I still invite you to our County Allison Verhoven. I am not a digger, I am someone who believes in freedom of speech. We can agree to disagree and that is about all you and I will ever agree on. I can see that you always are looking for the race card. Most people that saw my post understood that it was about the dogs and nothing else.
teresa January 02, 2014 at 11:27 AM
Change.org is an excellent site for signing petitions with ease!
Cheryl Payne January 02, 2014 at 12:45 PM
Omg, that's all I saw it for, helping the dogs! Why if you have to padlock a dog to a chain would you keep it. I rescued a poodle from my neighbors last yr. I found out they were moving and sent my son in law . They let him buy it for 175. It's hair was matted and they had whipped it every time it went out of the yard. Now Copper is the best friend my husband has ever had! Mr White did right! It is a shame that so many use the race card every time something doesn't go their way!
Cynthia Willard January 05, 2014 at 09:49 AM
Lance does by most accounts a thankless job. Numerous volunteers work at our shelters and as fosters, taking in dogs that by no fault of their own,end up tied in the back woods, dumped at the side of the road and worse. They work hard to create a safe loving environment for these cast off and neglected dogs. Some cannot afford to keep the pet, mos are unwilling to spend time with their dog to train them. Training makes a world of difference. For every responsible pet owner, there are many that are not. Thank you , Lance.

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