Embattled Owner Defends Animal Rescue

Too many dogs, missed court appearances and now another citation. The problems keep mounting for a Savannah animal rescue. But the owner says the city is making a big mistake.

Two things happened today. A zoning inspector cited Southern Comfort Animal Rescue for still having too many dogs, and issued a subpoena for failing to show up in court Monday. But tonight, owner Terry Wolf is telling her side.

Wolf says it's no secret. While she is trying, not all of the dogs in her care have been relocated. "We've told them some of the dogs are rehabilitating, hospice, or therapy dogs," she said.

Her animal rescue is licensed by the State of Georgia. She says while four-year-old Doberman Nozzle can be adopted out, seven-year-old Chewbacca--an abused dog who used to be terrified of humans--needs to stay. Still, Wednesday morning, an inspector cited her once again for having too many dogs.

"It's not as simple as shoving it out the door in a few days," said Wolf.

"She had six weeks or something," said city zoning director Tom Todaro. He says as long as Wolf does not comply and her neighbor complains, they have no choice but to cite her.

He says she has had chances to defend herself in court. "We've held a set of hearings and she didn't appear for either hearing," Todaro told us. "I don't understand why she couldn't be here."

"They've never said to us when to be there except in two voice messages, which contradicted when to be there," said Wolf.

So we listened to the messages. The caller identifies himself as inspector RB Scott. The first message says the hearing is Monday. On a follow-up call, the message was, "you need to be in court Tuesday. I couldn't get to you."

"We're trying to work with her, court is trying to work with her," said Todaro.

"I think they are playing games, and by going on the air and saying I did not show up is defaming my character," said Wolf.

Wolf is now scheduled to be in Recorder's Court Monday at 2pm. And she is now looking for an attorney to fight the city.

As for the city, zoning director Todaro wouldn't comment on the phone messages, but he admits--while the inspector did not see more than two dogs in Terry Wolf's backyard--they are relying on the neighbor's testimony. He claims he saw more than three dogs.

What happens next will be up to a judge on Monday.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com