PAWS Update on your county animal shelter

by Emily Lewy

This is the first in what will be a series of posts about PAWS and the Lumpkin County Animal Shelter.  The shelter belongs to residents of our county.  We pay the bills and we are responsible for what goes on there.  Good things are happening.  You will soon hear  about more options becoming available for low cost spay/neuter.  You will be asked for your suggestions on how to get the message out about pet over-population and improvements to our county shelter.

Difficult economic times are being felt at the Lumpkin County Animal Shelter.  Families losing their homes and folks losing their jobs is not good for the family pet.  A lot of animals are finding themselves on the street or turned in to the shelter.

Our county and the shelter staff are doing the best they can in an impossible situation.

As the president of PAWS, I am not pleased with the situation.  Shelter staff cannot begin to do the job as it needs to be done because too many animals pass through.

About half the animals that come in are brought in by Animal Control.  The rest are brought in by owners or someone who finds an animal and turns it in to the shelter.

Those brought in by Animal Control are held for five days before coming under control of the Shelter unless they are in such bad shape that they are euthanized.  Found animals are also held for five days during which time attempts are made to locate the owners.  After five days, these animals become available for adoption, transfer to rescue groups, or euthanization.

Owner surrenders become available for all options as soon as a release is obtained.  If there is no space for the animal, it can be euthanized immediately.

Let’s be very clear, the desirable outcome for all animals is a loving home.  Reality is there are no homes available for many of these great animals.  When PAWS takes animals to off-site adoptions, we find that most local residents already have as many pets as they can afford.  We work with shelter management to arrange as many transfers to rescue groups as we can …but there are never enough.  Many healthy, adoptable pets are euthanized because there is no space to hold them.  During July, adoptions and transfers were down.  A dog that had been in the shelter for just two weeks could be on the list for euthanization to make room for those being brought in.

I have been blunt in stating to management that twice as many animals are going through the shelter as they are capable of properly handling.  Two weeks is not nearly long enough to hold a lost pet or for new owners to be found.

The response to my concerns has been a proposal to charge a $25 fee for anyone bringing in an animal or animals.  Although I personally support the fee, many are concerned that people will just dump the animals instead of bringing them to the shelter.

One way or another, this community must get the message out that it is unacceptable to allow pets to run loose, especially when they have not been spayed or neutered.

I don’t know about you, but I consider it morally reprehensible to allow puppies and kittens to be born just to be killed.  I cannot believe that the people of this county want their children to grow up accepting such cruelty.

PAWS and the Lumpkin County Animal Shelter already offer help for those who cannot afford to have their pets spayed/neutered.  Help us get the word out.  Post comments about this article.  Let your county commissioners know what you think.

The responsibility belongs to all of us.  The concern we all have for “Nugget,” the community dog, is needed for the many hundreds of animals that have no home.

Emily Lewy, PAWS President

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