DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — LifeLine Animal Project, which runs the DeKalb County Animal Shelter, are becoming extremely worried as overcrowding problems at the shelter are at a pivotal breaking point.
In a statement released Friday, CEO Rebecca Guinn explains that to fix this problem, they have to find a home for hundreds of dogs in the next two months, or likely resort to euthanasia.
DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said the clock is ticking to fix this issue.
“It’s past time,” he said. “We are in an urgent situation. Drastic steps will be taken.”
Thurmond met with LifeLine officials this week to try and find solutions to the worsening overcrowding problems.
Guinn said they have about 615 dogs in the shelter that can sustain about 450 dogs comfortably.
“How many animals can we care for humanely in that facility? The number there per state inspectors is too great and it must be lowered,” Thurmond added.
11Alive looked into Georgia’s Government Shelter Data report released this week.
We found that while DeKalb’s main shelter can house about 400 animals, they have been dealing with up to four times that number all year — outpacing shelters in other counties like Fulton, Cobb, and Gwinnett.
Thurmond said the state agriculture department is investigating the conditions inside.
“The state inspectors are doing their jobs,” Thurmond said. “They are reporting what they see. It’s incumbent upon us now to take the appropriate step to reduce the overcrowding.”
One of those steps, he said, is a $10 million plan that would include expanding the facility, investing in spaying and neutering, a mobile vet clinic, and assisting pet parents with medical costs and food.
He said $2.6 million is approved and $7.5 million will be on the ballot in November.
In Guinn’s statement, she wrote that while they have long-term solutions, they are in dire need right now.
“Over the past year, we have discussed the myriad challenges, including staffing and veterinary shortages, at length with DeKalb County. Their leaders are partnering with us in support of several long-term solutions, which include overflow capacity and access to resources and veterinary care for pet owners in need. Most immediately, we are investing in additional staff and cleaning resources, stronger veterinary care teams, and increased access to spay/neuter. But right now, what the animals desperately need is our community’s immediate help,” she wrote.
To fix it, she added, at least 21 dogs must leave the shelter each day over the next two months, “whether through adoptions, foster, rescue transfers, or euthanasia.”
According to Georgia data, this year the shelter is euthanizing an average of 43 dogs and cats each month.
“The misnomer has been that DeKalb has a no-kill shelter. That’s not true,” Thurmond said. “What we really focus on is trying desperately to find as many adoptive homes as possible.”
How to help
- To read LifeLine’s full statement, click here.
- To learn how to adopt, click here.