“Pet guardians are fooling themselves if they think the animal they turn in to a shelter is likely to find a new home. (In the Atlanta area) fully two-thirds of pets impounded in area shelters are killed.”
– Georgia SPOT
There was a fundraiser for the Fayette Humane Society (www.fayettehumane.org) on July 29. For those of you who are unaware, it is vital that we have Humane Societies in our county and around our state. They play a key part in getting stray or unwanted animals adopted. As shown by the above quote, adoptions are sorely needed, but non-profits are only one part of the solution.
Although there are exceptions, Animal Control Centers (“Shelters”) are generally run by local government. A minority of Georgia counties are “no kill,” with adoptions as their focus. This is humane and very costly for counties with limited budgets. Therefore, most Georgia counties have a policy that after a certain period of time, animals will be killed and cremated.
Some people like to use the term euthanasia for terminating the life of an unwanted former pet. I don’t I call it what it is: killing an abandoned, lost, or unwanted pet.
Unfortunately, most likely by design, no state agency keeps up with the number of pets killed in Georgia each year, although they should. Instead, because the public outrage would be significant if the numbers were compiled and released statewide, each county supposedly keeps this data hidden away.
I say supposedly because, based on my experience as a County Commissioner in a rural Georgia County, the accuracy of these numbers is highly questionable. At least one head of our Animal Control Center just told us what we wanted to hear, not the facts, before her termination.
County Commissioners are also at fault. Centers are often understaffed, and three of the five Commissioners in my former County repeatedly refused to adequately staff our center. All said they were animal lovers but that the County could not afford the expense and “volunteers” should help out. So, the animals were inhumanely left on their own a significant part of the time.
Theoretically, the Ga. Dept of Agriculture regulates these shelters but rather than keeping up with the number of cats and dogs killed, GDOA has a listing of “slots” in centers by county. Simple to compile and administer and purposefully meaningless.
What should be done about this deplorable situation? For starters, our Governor should appoint a committee made up of prominent citizens, including politicians on both sides of the aisle, to recommend specific ways to reduce the deplorable killing of our dogs and cats. Possible remedies would include: Sufficient state funding for animal shelters, greater regulation and enforcement by GDOA, mandated, published reports to GDOA regarding the number of animals in each shelter and the number put down annually, identifying shelter best practices, including reasonable mandates such as shelters must be manned at all times, and state laws regarding neutering/spaying, including monetary penalties.
Contact the Governor and your state Rep and Senator if you care about Fayette County’s cats and dogs. The Humane Society can’t do it alone.