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June 14, 2007 Issue

Looters hit cemeteries; 100 items recovered
Officer catches kids preparing to fight dogs
Beautiful birds/Bountiful business

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Looters hit cemeteries; 100 items recovered

• Officers return 50 of more than 100 items taken from area graves

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Within the past few weeks, several people have reported to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office that items placed on loved ones’ graves have been stolen.

Thefts have been reported from Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Avera and from Bethel Church outside of Avera.

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A spokesman with the JCSO suggested that anyone who has placed mementoes or other items in any area cemetery should visit the site and check for thefts.

“I recovered a bunch of stuff that I feel is stolen,” the spokesman said.

“I know some of it came from a cemetery in Avera and I feel like some of it may be from Gibson, or somewhere else in Glascock County.”

The spokesman said various items have been taken, including benches, angels and any kind of thing someone can sell at a yard sale, which is the reason, according to the spokesman, for the thefts.

Of more than 100 items recovered, at least 50 had been returned to area families, the spokesman said. Mary Beasley of Avera said a red tractor windmill that had been placed on her father’s grave was taken within 24 hours.

Beasley said she learned some items had been recovered by the sheriff’s office.

“We went to see if any were ours.

We had no luck,” she said. “We’re having Bible school this week. Two of my friends and I went up to my daddy’s grave,” Beasley said. “We looked towards the church and all the flowers are gone. It’s just sad.”

She said she was talking to some other people who said their bench was taken.

“It seems that would be the last place you’d steal. It seems sacred.”



Officer catches kids preparing to fight dogs

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Dog fighting is a hard problem to solve, unless you have the help of the community.

With the help of residents in Wrens Quarters Friday, June 1, Code Enforcement Officer Jimmy Kitchens was able to apprehend to suspects who were preparing to sic one dog on another.

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Around 1:44 p.m., Kitchens received a call from dispatch of people fighting dogs off Moore Street in Wrens Quarters.

Kitchens arrived behind a residence at 1280 Moore Street next to The Park shortly after.

“There were all teenagers around at the time,” he said.

“They were trying to see whose dog was meaner.”

When he arrived on the scene, he saw 10 to 15 teenage boys watching Willie Gilmore, 17, of Louisville and one Louisville juvenile fighting their dogs.

The juvenile’s dog was a pit bull. Gilmore’s dog was a mix breed according to Kitchens.

“All of them ran when I pulled up,” Kitchens said.

“I rode a while and let it cool off a bit. Then I started talking to the neighbors who told me who it was and I went and talked to them and they confessed.”

Both teenagers are charged with criminal trespass with intent to fight dogs.

This is not the first time that Kitchens has received calls about dogs being fought in Wrens Quarters, but he thanks the residents in the area for aiding in his investigation.

“Thanks goes to the public in Wrens Quarters who are tired of seeing this,” Kitchens said, noting his proximity to the area. “Their help is how I was able to get this one.

If people on the street don’t help, it is almost impossible to catch them. “I get calls on dog fights. I have had several calls from individuals in Wrens Quarters.

It was just luck that it happened that day. I’ve gotten complaints, this was the first one I was able to catch and actually prosecute.”

Though the dogs still remain in the teenagers custodies, Kitchens said he did contact animal cruelty in Atlanta to see what could be done about the animals.

Gilmore will face his charge in the Jefferson County Magistrate Court, while the juvenile will go to Juvenile Court. According to the Magistrate Court the maximum sentence that can be handed down in this case is 12 months probation or jail and/or a fine of $1,000 plus surcharges.

In most cases though, Kitchens said pit bulls that are full-blooded or of a mixed breed are fought.

“Those are really your fighting dogs,” Kitchens said. “The pit in this case was just as sweet as it could be and that is what makes me so mad.”

Kitchens noted that some counties in Georgia have banned pit bulls and also said the county does not have a leash law.

“It is not just here in Louisville, it is everywhere in Jefferson County,” Kitchens said. “We just have to catch it.”

Kitchens wanted to stress that people fighting dogs are not just adults, but many are juveniles too.

“These are just two dogs facing off at each other,” he said. “One dog is just trying to survive.

“I want to thank the people of the community for calling. Without their help it is a losing situation.”



Beautiful birds/Bountiful business

Home aviary isn't just for the birds

• Wrens-area woman breeds, raises and sells birds in her home

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

You can say she has gone to the birds, around 200 of them.

Chris Veatch got into the bird business about seven to eight years ago, but walked away from it. About three to four years ago, the feathered friends flew right back into her life.

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The birds in her home aviary are resplendent in their electric blues, pale pinks, bright greens and other colors of the spectrum.

Veatch lays the blame for the love of birds on her son-in-law. Almost a decade ago, Veatch said she had some birds, but the mother sat on the smallest baby and the other two she had died from the cold.

“After that I said no more,” Veatch said.

Little did Veatch know, her son-in-law would have her back at it again a few years later.

“About three to four years ago, I started back up,” Veatch said. “I ended up with more of his birds again. That time I decided to have them in the house. Now I breed them or buy more.”

Since Veatch’s children have grown up and moved out, she remodeled half of her home as a sanctuary for the birds.

“First I had some in one bedroom,” Veatch said. “Then I took out two closets to connect two bedrooms. Then I put a window in.”

Veatch said she plans to add another window in the future so the caged birds can get a good view of the outside.

“When it is nice and warm, I take some outside, but I have to be careful of snakes, bigger birds or cats,” Veatch said.

She has had her license to breed the birds and sell them for four years.

“After I got my license, I started selling them and I am doing pretty good,” she said.

The process to obtain a license includes contacting the Department of Agriculture to make sure bird breeders meet special specifications.

“They have an inspector come and check out the place,” Veatch said. “And you pay a fee depending on what you sell.”

Everyday, Veatch tackles a variety of tasks to make sure the birds are happy and healthy. She gives them fresh water each day, fresh food every other day, but with so many different types of birds, Veatch has a knack for keeping in mind which bird eats what. On average, she said she goes through about two to three pounds of food per day.

In the past, she has even had to hand feed some of the baby birds. Veatch said she can only be gone three to four hours during these times or either takes the babies with her. The baby birds need vegetables and other foods with moisture, she has learned.

“This takes a lot of dedication,” she said. “With what you spend on food and the time it takes to care for them you probably don’t make a lot, but I love them.

“Sometimes I have people who come and say how can you stand it (chirping), but in the evening they settle down and you don’t hear them anymore.”

Veatch keeps the birds at least two months after they are born before selling them. Birds she breeds include parakeets, finches, canaries, cockatiels, canaries, lovebirds, parrotlett and African Greys. Of all the birds, Veatch said the cockatiels are the easiest to raise, while the African Greys are the most difficult. She added that smaller birds are more tolerable.

“Each bird has their own personality,” Veatch said. “Some are just really precious and are the sweetest thing.”

Besides bird owners, Veatch also sells to Pet Safari in Augusta, which she said is one of the last privately owned and cleanest pet stores left in the area.

“Every time I take them to the pet store, I feel like a traitor, but it is my business,” Veatch said. “But I can tell if people are going to give them a good home.”

The inside of Veatch’s home is not the only place for the birds; in the summer hummingbirds fill her yard.

“In the summer my backyard is like a sanctuary,” Veatch said. “I can go through one gallon of hummingbird feed a day. They come in swarms, it’s just unreal.”

The lives and the well-being of the birds and their breeding is something that includes multiple factors. If it is too hot, sometimes the birds will not breed. But Veatch learns about the birds and over the years has grown to love and care for each one of them.

“I have been pretty lucky.”

Veatch can be reached at her Highway 1 residence north of Wrens at (706) 547-3069.




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