While White and Hall counties have different challenges to tackle, both animal shelters are taking steps to get their cats and dogs out of the kennels and into homes as quickly as possible.
White County Animal Control announced earlier this month they are nearing maximum capacity, ushering in a lower adoption fee initiative to encourage potential adopters to make a move. Meanwhile in Hall County, while they aren’t maxed out, getting animals out the door into the hands of loving families is a constant, concerted effort.
“I don't know if it's the economy or what, but we have a lot of people that just can’t afford to feed their animals anymore,” White County Animal Control Officer Brian Anthony said. “On average, we've been picking up anywhere from three to five dogs a week, it seems like, that’s a stray. We're actually at the capacity right now to where we had to stop our owner surrenders. And we can't take any owner surrenders at the moment, because we're over our capacity. I've been here for a little over three and a half years, and this is the worst that I've seen it.”
A trend seen at White County Animal Control is the popularity of adopting smaller dogs, leaving a majority of larger dogs at the shelter. With White County adoption rates down across the board, they have had to take extra steps to encourage more adoptions.
“One step that we have taken and tried to do right now is we have actually reduced our adoption fee to $10,” Anthony said. “If it's a stray, we still have to pick it up, and we just have to find room for it. We do everything we can to try to get the animals to rescue groups and things like that.”
That $10 fee also includes an initial round of vaccines and a microchip.
The shelter in White County is classified as a “kill shelter,” meaning when capacity is reached and all other options have been exhausted, officials are forced to use “humane euthanization” to continually make space for new animals.
“That's what hurts us, I mean, that's the absolute last thing we want to do,” Anthony said. “But the way that the economy is this day, the way that we're keeping the animals, the way the animals are continuously coming in and coming in, we don't have an option.”
Apart from economic issues put forward as a reason for an overflowing shelter, Anthony also believes part of the problem is the number of dogs and cats that are not spayed or neutered.
One of the most effective ways utilized by many counties in North Georgia, including White and Hall counties, is using social media to share pictures and information about the animals available for adoption. Whether it be through urgent lists, or featured “pet of the week” campaigns, both White and Hall have found immense success in sharing their animals online.
“Everybody loves pictures of cute puppies,” White County spokesman Bryce Barrett said. “Whether those people are looking to adopt or not, they still share [the social media post].”
While the Hall County Animal Shelter is not at maximum capacity, they do put forward a concerted effort to adopt their dogs and cats as quickly as possible. By working with rescue groups, using board messages to promote older dogs and cats and through volunteer efforts, Shelter Director Trey Garcia reports large success in getting their animals out the door.
“Every county has their specific issue, and with us, we've been very fortunate with our county to implement ordinances that have really helped to be on the offensive side of things rather than trying to be defensive,” Garcia said. “So ordinances could be an issue, spaying and neutering and encouraging that — it really just depends ultimately on the resources that they have available. It's nationwide, every county shelter and humane society. They're just struggling to try to get as many animals out as they can.”
Hall County’s shelter currently has a goal of hosting 96 dogs and 54 cats, kittens and puppies included. While those figures won’t put them at total max capacity, it is the ideal ratio between employees and animals for them to be at their capacity for care.
Between White and Hall counties, social media outreach and promotion was hailed as the single most effective way of getting their animals into the hands of good owners. Hall County has even reported a 100% adoption rate for its social media "Urgent Adoption" posts.
“We could always use more volunteers,” Garcia said. “There's dog walking, there's bathing, helping with our off-site events. That's huge for us as well. They can help with our shelter day to day activities. But yeah, we could always use more.”
A list of White County animals available for adoption is available online by clicking here.
A list of Hall County animals available for adoption is available online by clicking here.
An update was made on Aug. 31 at 4:39 p.m. to further clarify Hall County Animal Shelter data.