Animal shelter debate continues in Rhea County - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Animal shelter debate continues in Rhea County

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RHEA COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) -- The bout between a group of animal activists and the Rhea County Sheriff's Office rages on.  

"How have I really been? I'm ticked off. I believe I've been set up," Richard Orlowske said as he left the Rhea County Jail Friday.

He's charged with animal cruelty. However, he and his supporters, many on Facebook, tell Channel 3 they are the victims.

The RCSO says not so fast.

"They don't have a clue. All they know is what somebody else is telling them," Lt. Mike Owenby says.  

A post on Orlowske's Save my Tail page says the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation was called to investigate. Owenby says they were checking on claims that animal bodies were being burned in barrels.

"Everybody wants to point fingers at everybody instead of knowing who is right and who is wrong," says Owenby.

Other posts claim the RCSO threatens to arrest anyone who adopts dogs from Orlowske.

"We don't even know really what we can do or can't do at this point. We've never run into this before," Owenby says.

The RCSO is working with the district attorney's office to find out if Orlowske adopted dogs from the Rhea County Animal Shelter, and then resold them for $250 without proper vet care.

Orlowske has already denied these claims, but allegations against the RCSO keep mounting.

Channel 3 asked Owenby about claims that the Sheriff is abusing his power to intimidate people in Rhea County.

"What would he gain from that? I mean, he's spent his last four or five years trying to do good for the animals and what else," replies Owenby.  

Channel 3 reached out to Orlowske Wednesday.

He says he will not speak to the media until he speaks with his attorney.

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