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Dog Rescue Owner Prepares to Move

Cherokee County officials gave Susan Fischer until the end of the year to come into compliance with local zoning laws.

Susan Fischer and her family are scrambling to find a way to save what she calls “her family’s mission.”

The Fischers have until Saturday to either comply with zoning regulations or move Fischer Farm Pet Rescue to another location, a solution that will cost the family thousands of dollars.

“We were planning on moving, but not like this,” Fischer said. “It’s hard coming up with first and last months’ rent, plus a deposit and fencing for the new home. And to do it a week after Christmas, that’s tough.”

The problems began when the Fischers were told the property they use for their rescue farm is zoned R-80, or residential. The 7-acre site is not zoned for the numerous dogs, cats, horses, ponies, ducks, goats and more. In October, 15 goats escaped from the Fischer property. Animal control was called, and the Fischers were told the property was not properly zoned.

Cherokee County Manager Jerry Cooper said that James Brock, the property owner, has applied to have the property rezoned as agriculture but has said he told Fischer he wants her to move by Jan. 17.

However, if the request is approved and Fischer continued to live on the property, the new zoning would allow Fischer only to keep her livestock, which include horses, chickens and 14 goats. In order to keep her 80 dogs, she would have to be classified as a kennel, which requires licensing through the state Department of Agriculture.

Fischer must be in compliance before the planning commission and hearings Jan. 3 and 17 respectively, Cooper said.

“While I admire anyone who wishes to rescue animals, doing so in an R-80 zoned property is inappropriate,” Cooper said in an email to Canton-Sixes Patch.

Cooper said Fischer received her first warning Oct. 20, when a county marshal went to her home on East Cherokee Drive to find 70 dogs, 15 goats, chickens and a couple of horses.

The marshal gave Fischer a warning, and when he returned Oct. 25, he gave her a notice of violation with 30 days to come into compliance with the county’s zoning ordinance. On Nov. 25, he returned to the property and issued Fischer a 30-day extension because she told him she was in the process of having the property rezoned.

“The County has given the occupant ample opportunities to address the notice of violation requiring the occupant’s compliance by Dec. 31,” Cooper said. “If the occupant is not in compliance by (then), the County Marshal’s Office will consider all facts and make a determination as to what additional actions, if any, will be taken prior to the Jan. 17 hearing date.”

Now, the family is rushing to adopt out, sell or find homes for as many of the animals as possible.

“We’ve moved a lot of the animals, and we’ve found a home,” Fischer said. “It’s tough, though, to prepare this fast. “

The Fischers are used to finding new homes. Fischer and her husband have adopted 10 children from ages 3 to 17, and it was the children’s idea to begin rescuing dogs and other animals.

“The kids wanted to give orphaned dogs a second chance like the one they’ve been given,” Fischer said. “This is their passion.”

It’s the kids who go with Fischer on Saturdays to a local PetSmart to help adopt out the dogs and who help groom, train and care for the dogs.

“I’m pretty sure I’ve got a future groomer, veterinarian and dog whisperer,” Fischer said.

With just a week to go, the Fischers are working hard to prepare for the likely move.

Fischer said people from all over the state offered to help move animals, set up the new kennel and more.

“These people, a lot of them are rescue owners. They know the good work we do, and they want to help us continue.”

Anyone interested in adopting a dog or helping the rescue farm can call Fischer at 678-488-7269.

Joe Schulman contributed to this article.

Michael January 13, 2012 at 05:10 AM
Please beware people do NOT send this lady any MONEY! She is a DOG BROKER... she takes in dogs, gives no vetting and adopts them out to make money. 80 dogs for one lady, its hoarding and she can not possibly care for that many dogs with NO JOB. while her story may be touching it is used as a hoax for dog selling. How many dogs have died in her care, many, how many times have volunteers been sickened and had to take sick animals from her only to die? She has been run out of Rome and now she will be run out of Cherokee, because us REAL rescuers know the truth of her. Green Pets America is also just as bad. Each of these groups does very little vetting, HW testing or spay/neuter/adoption contracts. Just this past week someone had to take a very sick dog from Susan and called the authorities on the welfare of her care for her animals. Give the dogs up and move on and take care of your kids. Selling dogs to provide does not make her a rescuer, but a dog broker. Its not a rescue.
Michael January 13, 2012 at 05:15 AM
You need help and you need to leave the rescue business behind. You have way to many sick and dying animals in your care and you know it. You are a dog broker! We all know what is going on and the word is OUT! How do you explain that poor dog that was just taken from your rescue this past week, the dog has been completely neglected and now having to get lots of needed vet care. Selling dogs is not ok and makes you just as bad as any backyard breeder. The news is out on your so called rescue group and Green Pets America!
Edith Hokin January 13, 2012 at 05:58 AM
Council has the authority to remove this person immediately so why have they allowed extended suffering to these poor animals that makes them as rotten as she is. And who finances food/clothing to these ten children and food/veterinary costs to all these poor animals in this woman's care? You don't need to be a rocket scientist to realize she is working the system at the tax-payers expense. Surrender the animals to the RSPCA where they will receive the correct treatment you have never given them. To you they are just $ signs. Remember KARMA.
justine January 16, 2012 at 05:11 PM
She does adoptions every week at Petsmart in Canton. No home checks or reference check needed. You can call the store in protest to make her stop the adoptions there. The more people become aware of how bad this situation is, the faster the authorities can shut her down.
justine January 16, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Hi Michael, I am planning to call the Ga Dept of Agriculture tomorrow (today is holiday so not open) and cite the chapter and verse of the Rules of the Department of Agriculture that she is in violation of and ask them how to shut her down. Chapter 40-13-13 (Animal Protection) section 4 (Premise Requirements and Performance Standards for Owner and/or Operator) subsection J (Releasing of injured, diseased or abnormal animals) states: Any pet that has an apparent injury, disease, or health related malady can only be released for sale, trade, or adoption provided the person receiving the animal is made aware of the condition in writing at the time of transfer. My hope is that an official inspection of the premises will be done and she will be shut down immediately. Again, as in my earlier post, she's got enough on her plate with 10 children.

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