A former county employee is among two men facing charges in an animal cruelty probe involving malnourished horses in northwestern Dawson.
Tyler Jones of Dawsonville and Jim White of Dallas were cited last week with three counts each of animal cruelty by the Dawson County Marshal's Office.
Jones supervised the Dawson County Transfer Station and Recycling Center until he resigned last week in the wake of the charges, which are misdemeanors and carry a maximum sentence of up to six months in jail and $1,000 fine.
Dawson County Planning Director David McKee said Monday that both men, who are scheduled to appear March 27 in Magistrate Court, are cooperating and have contacted his office, which manages both animal control and the marshal's divisions.
"If we can come up with a consent agreement and the judge approves it, we will not go to court on the 27th," McKee said.
According to McKee, the investigation began March 5 when the marshal's office received reports of animal neglect from residents of the Amicalola Church and Hubbard roads area, where Jones and White kept horses in a leased pasture.
"We received multiple complaints from citizens that were driving by and maybe saw the horses," he said. "One of those citizens called the Department of Agriculture as well.
"We received complaints that there were horses that were very skinny."
The complaints were investigated by the marshal's office and the department of agriculture, which determined an older horse had died and two others were malnourished.
"The way our animal control ordinance is written, there's several places in the animal cruelty section in which they meet - failure to provide adequate food, neglect," McKee said. "If they don't cooperate or something happens to one of the horses, this could be escalated to state charges."
McKee said the two horses are improving daily after being moved to a 100-acre pasture on Kelly Bridge Road.
"The two horses that were moved are perfectly fine," he said. "They've already put on weight. They've already improved since they've been moved. The cruelty stopped on that Tuesday."
The citations were issued Wednesday, one day before Jones resigned his position with the county.
According to County Manager Cindy Campbell, Jones had been placed on administrative leave after the complaints surfaced and the investigation opened.
During the time he was on leave, Campbell said several management issues at the transfer station were discovered.
"Those issues are now being addressed and we've advertised to fill the position," she said.