VALDOSTA — On Tuesday the Burton Fletcher Foundation and the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners honored six welfare heroes who saved the lives of animals in Lowndes in 2023.

“My foundation has a number of compelling priorities, one of them is to be an advocate, another is to be an educator,” said Burton Fletcher, head of the Burton Fletcher Foundation. “The one I probably like the best is to be a cheerleader for the animal rescue organizations.”

One of the ways Fletcher cheers on these organizations is by recognizing them for their achievements and contributions to the animals of Valdosta and Lowndes County.


Exceptional individuals and organizations were recognized with both the “Difference Maker Award” and a proclamation signed by Chairman Bill Slaughter.

The honorees awarded were Linda Patelski, director of the Lowndes County Animal Shelter; Hannah Baldwin, rescue coordinator for the Lowndes County Animal Shelter; the Lowndes County Animal Shelter; the Humane Society of Valdosta-Lowndes; United Saving Animals Rescue Team; and Kathy Yert’s Paws Furever Home, Inc.

Sgt. Michellangelo “Mike” Brown accepted the award on behalf of the Lowndes County Animal Shelter, Cindy Moses accepted the award on behalf of the United Saving Animals Rescue Team, and Julie Greenhaw accepted on behalf of the Humane Society of Valdosta-Lowndes.


The “Difference Maker Award” recognizes individuals and organizations who excel in the field of animal welfare through public or community activities. Those who receive the award have made a significant impression through actions or words that improve the lives of animals or others in animal rescue or the broader community.

The proclamation given to the honorees also celebrates those who volunteer their time toward animal welfare.

The last paragraph of the proclamation reads, “I, Chairman Bill Slaughter, on behalf of the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners, as requested by Mr. Burton Fletcher and the Burton Fletcher Foundation, do hereby recognize February 27, 2024, as Animal Volunteer and Rescue Day in Lowndes County.”

Together the awarded individuals and organizations have helped close to 2,500 animals in being adopted or finding homes.

“This event is historic, and a first for Lowndes County,” said Fletcher. “The county commissioners have been wonderful and very supportive. I could not be more grateful.”

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