New Animal Shelter for Fulton County Georgia
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CALL TO ACTION: GIVE FULTON ANIMALS AND STAFF A SAFE, NEW SHELTER
Fulton County is the most populous county in the state of Georgia and a home to more than 8,000 stray animals in any given year.
The current Fulton County animal shelter was built in 1978 and was designed to hold 80 animals a time. The animals were not meant to leave the shelter alive. Animal officers would patrol areas and respond to public calls regarding situations involving strays. If the animal was taken to the shelter, it was euthanized within 3 days. At the time, the Fulton County Shelter killed 54% of the animals that entered it’s doors.
Fast forward to 2018.
The situation has evolved. The shelter was taken over by a wonderful organization, LifeLine, and saw it’s life saving rates skyrocket while intake numbers grew. Today, the Fulton County Animal is home to ~ 400 dogs and boasts an amazing August 2018 life saving rate of 87%.
Unfortunately, the animals are still housed in the same facility. To reiterate, the shelter designed for 80 dogs now holds close to 400.
Intake numbers are even more staggering, as they hover at more than 8,000 animals per year. The shelter is beyond bursting at the seams.
The staff and volunteers at LifeLine continue to charge forward to get as many animals as they can adopted into the right homes and out to rescues. No shelter wants to euthanize. County shelters are required to pick up any strays reported and take in all animals surrendered. This creates overcrowding in such a tiny facility. Volunteers work hard to improve the facility through initiatives such as repainting the building. The staff runs several programs to get the animals exposure outside of the shelter to increase likelihood of adoption. However, the county isn’t doing their part to provide what is truly needed, an adequate facility.
Modest efforts have been made to keep up with the building and improve its situation such as adding more cat and dog crates and putting up a metal shed for the food and metal trash cans to store treats . . . the shelter remains dark, dirty, wet, and malodorous.
The VERY outdated facility’s long list of issues includes:
Pest Infestation | Rats run through employee offices, pee on staff's desks, and steal food from the shelter animals. Maggots routinely fall through the ceiling onto the employees desks.
Inadequate Housing Capacity | The shelter is forced to house 8-12 dogs in the large kennels at any given time. The dog area was built with 30 “runs”, a brick and chain linked dog cells that are 4.58 ft x 32 ft long SPLIT in half by a metal dog door on a wire. Each “half” contains anywhere from 4 to 6 dogs at a time. There are two others that are 4.58 ft by 14ft that they use for shy dogs paired together and another 12 used for severe medical cases and mommas with babies. The shelter has also added 126 old metal crates used for intake, medical issues, dogs that can’t be in shared living spaces and brand new dogs acclimating to the harsh reality that is the life of a shelter tenant. This is all within walls of a facility that was designed to hold 80 animals a time and it’s one room so the noise and smell is unbearable...
Kennel Cough & Quarantine Issues | Many of the dogs suffer from Kennel Cough not too long after entering the building. The shelter has battled multiple Giardia outbreaks in the past 6 months. It's impossible to quarantine appropriately when they are all in one large room. The dark atmosphere creates a huge issue.
Poor Building Design | The shelter is essentially a small, rundown warehouse that gets hosed down twice a day with a drainage system running through each multi-dog kennel. This means the water and germs run through each and every large kennel through the shallow drain. It's so overcrowded that it's impossible to really scrub each space clean.
Standing Water | Outside areas hold standing water rendering parking spots and the dog play yards useless. Additionally, the water seeps into the building and contributes to unsanitary conditions.
Inaccessibility | The shelter is right around a sharp corner with a very difficult turn. A metal plate accompanied by unclear warning signs blocks the shelter’s entrance and makes the shelter’s parking lot nearly inaccessible to staff and visitors.
Lack of SAFE space outside the shelter to walk the animals | There is no easy access to a walkable path for animals who desperately need a break from the shelter life. Current staff/volunteers have to run across a multi-lane street with no crosswalk, dodging trucks that are going 50mph, just to get to the closest walkable area (Howell Station neighborhood).
While LifeLine continues on with it’s lifesaving mission, further progress is simply not achievable without a new facility. The shelter needs separate rooms to help stop the spread of things like kennel cough, several more kennel spaces for dogs, multiple play yards with more space, and improved conditions. The county needs a facility that provides the appropriate layout to continue saving, rehabilitating, and adopting out animals.
Today, as it stands, the current building is a disgrace. Despite Lifesaving work of the staff, animals will get euthanized for space. Even more concerning is that the lack of space puts the employees in difficult situations and impairs LifeLine from doing even better. The employee turn-over rate is high and most of it is attributed to the condition of the facility and the stress it causes on the employees. Imagine coming to work to find rat feces on your desk, rats eating through any food/ snacks you may have brought to work . . . and then watching so many great dogs decline because of the facility, knowing that no matter how much hard work you put in the physical constraints imposed by the facility work against you.
It’s not practical to continue treating, spaying/ neutering, feeding and caring for the large number of animals that are highly adoptable yet in a structure that isn’t appealing to potential adopters. The smelly, noisy, rodent ran environment turns several people away on a regular basis. The work LifeLine does with Atlanta’s strays EASILY turns them from unwanted to adoptable and desirable. The facility’s lack of appeal, complete lack of appropriate space, unhealthy structural environment, crumbling infrastructure, and unsavory location are a shame on our County.
The Fulton County Animal Shelter is county owned meaning it’s a service provided to our county with our tax dollars. The work LifeLine does with our animals is impressive! We owe the staff, volunteers, and Fulton county's animals an appropriate and healthy facility.
We need a housing facility/ shelter that can properly address both medical and behavioral conditions in animals and provide treatment in clean, well ventilated setting that is designed to meet the needs of the animals and the people working with them. It's EXTREMELY important that we have a facility that invites potential adopters and volunteers.
Infrastructure is our biggest constraint and the main impediment to lives of innocent animals who cannot advocate for them themselves.
WE ARE THEIR HOPE, THEIR VOICE.
Please sign the petition to make their voice heard.
Your signature will help us make a case for the Fulton County Government allocation of emergency funds for a new shelter.
UPDATE: Fulton County is Debating Funding for a New Shelter
The Fulton County district commissioners are trying to agree on whether or not a new Fulton County Shelter will fit in the budget. Please take a moment, call your district, speak to an assistant and urge them to let the commissioners know you feel this is an URGENT NEED and that we need a BRAND NEW facility (the current one is not recoverable).
Use this link to find your district representative and their contact information: https://bit.ly/2CEleOR
Thank you for your support!
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