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FOX 5 I-Team investigates

Rabun County animal shelter revisited 9 months after 'Lucky Dog' scandal

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RABUN COUNTY, Ga. -

The Rabun County district attorney promises justice will be served in an animal shelter scandal that attracted national attention.

A FOX 5 I-Team hidden camera investigation exposed how the Boggs Mountain Humane Shelter deceived donors who thought they were guaranteeing the safety of animals dropped off there. Instead, records show many of those pets were killed anyway.

Officials at the Paws 4 Life animal shelter in Rabun County said that though they have a determined core of hard-working volunteers, a free cat neutering service and a microscopic euthanasia rate, there's still a feeling of frustration.

"I think that a lot of people are still reluctant to maybe grasp that there's a new group that's come in and has no affiliation with the previous ownership,' said Rabun County Paws 4 Life director Chris Simmons.

That would be the Boggs Mountain Humane Shelter. Last summer, the FOX 5 I-Team took hidden cameras into the shelter to catch then director Peanut Kilby deceiving donors. She told us and many others that for a $100 donation you could place a dog into their Lucky Dog program, guaranteeing they wouldn't be killed.

It turned out many of the "Lucky Dogs" were euthanized anyway, including two healthy and happy dogs we saw during our undercover visit.

Despite those deaths, donors got emails or cards from Boggs Mountain falsely telling them the animal they sponsored had been placed in a wonderful home.

But nine months after the I-Team investigation aired -- nine months after the GBI started its own probe -- the criminal case remains open. No charges filed. People in Rabun County all have the same question: why?

Rabun County District Attorney Brian Rickman hears them too.

"There is action that's going to be taken. The investigation is ongoing. We are making progress. I want people to understand that just because it hasn't moved as quickly as everyone would like, including me, that doesn't mean we don't take it serious," Rickman said.

He says GBI agents have interviewed many of the donors who claim they were deceived, but a rash of murders in north Georgia forced them to put the Boggs Mountain investigation on hold.

Rickman expects the case to come to a head once his office obtains certain financial records. He said that he doesn't know if any criminal charges will be filed.

"The honest answer is I will tell you that based on everything I've seen, it's very serious and I have serious concerns that there was in fact criminal wrongdoing," Rickman said.

Kilby lost her job and the Boggs Mountain charity transferred the operation to a new group, Rabun County Paws 4 Life. Not a single person from the old operation is there now or on the board. But board president Shannon Conrad says the delay in the criminal case is still hurting them. She said that she believes once the case goes away, they'll have a better chance to raise money.

"We have people that have told us outright, several different foundations that said, 'We are waiting for an answer to the criminal case before we can give you money,'" Conrad said.

According to their records, since Paws 4 Life took over in November, four animals have been euthanized -- all for medical reasons and 200 have been placed in homes or returned to their owner. That's a euthanasia rate of under 5 percent.

So far investigators have identified 17 lucky dogs who were eventually killed. They're still conducting interviews and examining records seized from the Boggs Mountain shelter.

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