The hours posted on the glass doors of Clayton County Animal Control (CCAC) said they were open, but the hand-written sign above it said the facility was closed. The reason was that it was “euth day” at CCAC.
“Euth day,” which is euthanasia day, occurs on Tuesdays and Fridays at this facility, but the on-call vet for CCAC can be called any day or night of the week once the shelter gets too full. Dogs redlined by the animal control officers are sedated on these days and then humanely put to sleep. Sometimes the number of lives lost is two; sometimes it is 12, or even 22. While this number might alarm most, it is a significant drop in the numbers from years ago.
CCAC has one of the highest kill rates in the state of Georgia, which is a result of too many animals that are not spayed or neutered. Add to that CCAC’s policy on pitbulls and any animal control facility will have a tremendous problem on their hands. The policy on pitbulls in the county insists that dog rescues must pull pit bulls (and the other “aggressive” breeds such as rottweiler’s, akitas, and chows) in order to make certain that the dogs are not used for fighting or as bait dogs and that they are safely and successfully adopted out to responsible owners. Ultimately, the policy protects the dogs, but with the amount of intake at Clayton County, the policy almost acts as a death sentence.
To give some perspective on what CCAC is working with, a nine month look at 2011’s dog euthanization rate provides a sobering reality: 2,680 dogs are put to sleep in Clayton County’s Animal Control facility. However, the same nine months in 2012 suggested something different: only 1,107 dogs were euthanized. Simply put, of all the dogs brought through the doors of CCAC, the euthanasia rate dropped from 83.3% in 2011 to 39.3% in 2012.
Between 2011 and 2012, the policies and procedures at CCAC remained the same, as well as the intake numbers. The one thing that did change was the shelter’s partnership with a non-profit group, Partners4Pets, a group advocating for the animals of Clayton County. Partners Amy Adams and Maria Dorough founded the group in 2011. Dorough is a longtime Clayton resident and saw a need at the shelter, so she stepped in. Adams, a Henry County resident travels to the shelter several days a week. The group works alongside the Clayton County Police Department Animal Control Unit, led by Captain Mark Thompson. Their tasks include coordinating rescue groups, fundraising for the vetting of rescued dogs, transportation coordination within city limits and outside city limits, as far away as Seattle, Washington.
The other partners, Bonnie Adams (Adam’s daughter), Jennifer Denis, and Allison Solomon carry a great deal of the workload. The partners take photos, love on the animals, test their temperament, tend to injuries, fundraise, transport, and do promotions. Their efforts have been magnified, though, with the help of social media. From taking photos and uploading the picture to the Partners for Pets Facebook page, Instagram account, and Twitter accounts, the social media effect has been unquestionably a pivotal move for the rescue efforts of animals.
Partners4Pets is not a unique operation as far as coordinating rescue groups. It is a precise machine, the way the rescue effort works. For instance, Partners photographs the dogs, posts the pictures with the dogs ID number and any descriptive information available. Viewers of the Facebook page will offer pledges or full sponsorships of a dog, and while it is never a guarantee that the money pledged will save that life, rescues groups are drawn to the pledges as it suggests that the vetting of that dog might be covered. A certified rescue group then alerts Dorough who will place a rescue mark on the redlined dog’s card, guaranteeing its safety. Some dogs are held in boarding for ten days for quarantine before they can travel across state lines while others are sent into foster families while the rescues look for an adopter. Most dogs that are rescued do not have an adopter lined up and must stay with volunteer foster families, sometimes indefinitely.
The Facebook page, with over 4500 “Likes,” is an active page with frequent posts of incoming dogs or links to fundraising events in support of Partners4Pets.
The group has West coast followers, administrators of the Facebook page, who tally the pledges the night before a euth day and sends them to the accountant. Bills are sent requesting the pledges and minus the vetting, boarding, and travel expenses, Partner4Pets sends the money to the rescue group. Occasionally, so many dogs are pulled to rescue that the shelter will declare a “No-Kill Day,” a real triumph for Partner4Pets. But these are always short-lived.
The holidays tend to bring in higher numbers of animals, as well as after the holidays when impulsive holiday gifts like a puppy or a kitten are unloaded at the shelter, their novelty already worn off. The shelter tends to run full during these times and hundreds of animals are lost, despite all the efforts of the Partners.
Bonnie Adams spoke of the difficulties of the harsh realities of a high-kill shelter: “[It’s difficult] having to look into the eyes of every single dog there, spend several minutes with them taking their picture, and knowing that you can’t save them all and it might be the last time that dog receives any sort of love or attention.”
When asked what her organization needed the most, Adams replied “We always need volunteers. We need help taking pictures, transporting, fostering, running the Facebook page, planning fundraisers, donating items, donating money, donating time – we never have enough help and money.”
But she ultimately remains optimistic of the road ahead.
Adams went on to say “I feel like the future of our organization is very bright! If we have managed to reduce the euthanasia rate by 44% in under a year, imagine what we can do in 2 years or 5 years. I would love to be able to implement our program in other shelters as well.”
If you would like to be a part of the Partners4Pets volunteer’s effort, contact Bonnie Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/Partners-with-Clayton-County-Animal-Control/339511346067908.
CCAC is located at 1396 Government Circle, Jonesboro, Georgia 30236 and is open Monday-Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.