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Ex-director of Georgia animal shelter charged with killing animals after being paid to save them

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The former director of a supposed "no-kill" animal shelter in Georgia was free on bond Thursday after a grand jury indicted her for allegedly charging owners not to euthanize their pets and then killing them anyway.

The grand jury in Rabun County in northeast Georgia returned the 60-count indictment Wednesday night against Lowanda "Peanut" Kilby, former director of the Boggs Mountain Humane Shelter, which was closed after an investigation last year by WAGA-TV of Atlanta.

Euthanizing animals isn't a crime in Georgia, and none of the 60 felony counts charge Kilby with cruelty or mistreating animal in the shelter's Lucky Dog-Lucky Kitty program.

Instead, the indictment accuses her of theft, deception and violating Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act for allegedly mishandling donations.

The indictment alleges that the shelter euthanized more than two dozen animals after having charged their owners $100 or more with the promise to provide all shots and medical care and place their animals with adoptive families.

Kilby surrendered Wednesday night and was released on $100,000 bond. Her attorney couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

"It's a black eye on the community. We want to make sure we show that the case has been investigated and that someone will be held accountable," Rabun County District Attorney Brian Rickman told WAGA.

Kilby and Penny Burkitt, the shelter's executive director, resigned in August 2012 after WAGA reported its findings last year. The shelter closed a few months later.

The Lucky Dog-Lucky Kitty program was taken over by the nonprofit Rabun Paws 4 Life Animal Shelter under a $60,000 contract with the county. Paws 4 Life says it's also a "no-kill" shelter, and its monthly report for August shows that it had a 98 percent "live release rate."

The indictment even lists the names each of the 28 animals whose owners gave them up for adoption with the promise that they wouldn't be put down:

Buddy, Georgie, Brady, Tug, Tank, Red, Spot, Jake, Ginger, Denver, Toshie, Kelly, Dixie, Roger, Nora, Spike, Boss, Lola, Oreo, Sally, Pookie, Brownie, Thor, Jenny, Molly, Tuxedo, Jersey, Bart.

It couldn't immediately be determined what kind of animals each of the pets was, but Chris Simmons, director of Paws 4 Life, referred to them as dogs in a statement posted on the shelter's Facebook page.

"While it is not my place to act as judge and jury, I will say that no matter what happens, nothing will replace those dogs that were put to sleep," Simmons said. "My heart aches for all of those people who donated money to help those dogs find a forever home.

"Those dogs saw the worst side of human behavior," he said. "They had no voice, and were silenced forever."

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