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Out of options, shelter threatens to kill dogs. Public steps up

Bill Torpy, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

ATLANTA — The plea was urgent. And dire: The Dekalb County Animal Shelter was packed with unwanted dogs. Historically overcrowded. If the public didn’t adopt some, like 150 by month’s end, animals would be euthanized.

It was like a giant clock ominously ticking alongside the face of an adorable — and doomed — dog.

Remember back at the start of COVID? Folks stuck at home rushed to dog pounds across the nation and snapped up furry friends to help them negotiate those scary times.

DeKalb, with a capacity for 450 dogs, got down to about 50 in mid-2020. Last week, it had almost 600.

The shelter is in crisis because dogs, especially strays picked up by the DeKalb’s animal control officers, are flowing into the facility and staying. Adoptions have plummeted nationwide.

“They keep coming in but are not leaving,” said Rebecca Guinn, CEO of LifeLine Animal Project, which has operated the shelters in DeKalb and Fulton counties since 2013.

 

I called Guinn Thursday morning after hearing the news.

Guinn, a former criminal defense attorney, got involved in saving dogs 20 years ago when one’s paw got caught in a barbed wire fence near her home and she later found out how cruel the system was for unwanted pets.

DeKalb is now considered a “no-kill” shelter. That doesn’t mean they don’t euthanize animals. But she said their “save rate” has been over 90%.

Guinn figures economic uncertainty is causing the drop in adoptions, that people don’t want to take on the added responsibility of pets. Apartments have gotten tougher with restrictions on medium-sized and large dogs.

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