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Augusta animal euthanasia rate at 70 percent for second year

6,578 disposed of last year, numbers persist

Sunday, April 27, 2014 6:59 PM
Last updated Monday, April 28, 2014 1:46 AM
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Harley, a sheltie mix at Augusta’s city-run animal shelter, lived last year. Her former roommate, Friesha, mostly a husky breed, also found an owner who could not resist her inquisitive nature and happy demeanor.

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Carly Webber, kennel attendant, pets Doc, a 2-year-old Terrier mix, outside Augusta Animal Services Center. Thousands of animals are euthanized annually at the center due to high volumes and numbers aren't changing.    JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Carly Webber, kennel attendant, pets Doc, a 2-year-old Terrier mix, outside Augusta Animal Services Center. Thousands of animals are euthanized annually at the center due to high volumes and numbers aren't changing.

Those two adopted dogs are among the lucky few.

Faced with limited shelter space, a high stray population and widespread neglect, the city of Augusta has been forced to euthanize 70 percent of the animals admitted to its rescue facility off Tobacco Road for a second consecutive year.

Records on file with Augusta Animal Services show 6,578 of the 9,340 dogs, cats, raccoons, deer and opossums admitted to the facility last year were euthanized – a total that director Sharon Broady said has remained constant for much of the recent past.

For comparison, she cited 2012 numbers, which were nearly identical: of the 9,650 admitted, 6,760 had healthy lives cut short. The year before that, 66 percent, or 6,590 of the 9,875 animals admitted to the city had their remains disposed of after receiving a $4.70 fatal injection.

“Staff as a whole is greatly affected by the euthanasia process,” said Broady, who attributed much of the high rate to animals not being spayed or neutered, owners abandoning lost pets and low adoption rates. “Employees enter this field because they have a love for animals. The neglect and abuse that staff sees on a daily basis is heart wrenching, but we know that euthanasia is a necessary part of the job.”

So far this year, 2,126 animals have been sheltered, with only 77 being adopted. In the past three years, 283, 322 and 303 animals were adopted, respectively – at a fee of $65 for cats, $75 for male dogs and $85 for females. Senior citizens and members of the military pay only $50.

That’s an annual adoption rate of 3 percent, compared to more than $30,000 spent on fatal injections last year.

“Spay or neuter your pets (and) keep your animals confined to your property,” Broady said of ways the community can help. “If your pet is lost, contact Animal Services. We are required to hold lost and stray animals for five days.”

There is no centralized database for tracking shelter deaths in Georgia, but the U.S. Humane Society said that over the past four decades, euthanasia numbers have declined sharply nationwide – from about 15 million cats and dogs euthanized in 1970 to approximately 3.4 million in 2013.

Much of this success, the organization stated on its Web site, can be attributed to widespread spay/neuter efforts, which successfully stemmed the tide of unwanted puppies and kittens in most communities and eliminated the bulk of pet overpopulation. “We are now, thankfully, closer than ever to the day when euthanasia will be reserved only for animals who are suffering or are too aggressive to safely reside in our communities,” the society said in a statement.

In support of the society’s goal of zero euthanasia, community-wide solutions, such as Pets for Life, World Spay Day, and Stop Puppy Mills, are forming outside shelter walls to prevent neglect and abandonment.

Among the newer operations is the Direct Giving program, an initiative that’s being launched by The Dog Shop to help people donate straight to charities such as Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary and the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance.

The program works by giving customers the chance to choose not just the charity, but also an item, such as a collar, leash or food, they want to donate when shopping at The Dog Shop online at, owner Philip Thomas said.

“Every year, millions of abandoned or neglected dogs are taken in by animals shelters,” Thomas said. “This is why we had to help in whatever way we could.”


WHERE: 4124 Mack Lane

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday

ADOPTION FEES: $65 for cats, $75 for male dogs and $85 for female dogs

CONTACT: (706) 790-6836

Comments (15) Add comment
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dickworth1 04/28/14 - 05:57 am
animal control

As an animal supporter, why not try and bring the SPCA to Augusta with the authority to issue tickets to those that do not take care of their animals. It is a shame for the people of Augusta to just drop animals in neighborhoods and let them fend for their survival because
you no longer want the animal. The SPCA will investigate mistreated animals and if your animal comes up missing you must explain why. Owning animals is costly and time consuming but very rewarding to have a loyal friend. If owners would take responsibility and have your animal fixed so they could not reproduce it would certainly help. If you see someone dropping animals anywhere, get the vehicle tag number and report it to animal control.

WalterBradfordCannon 04/28/14 - 08:09 am
There are numerous things

There are numerous things that can be done. An aggressive subsidized spay/neuter campaign has the largest immediate effect, and this effect has been very positive in Aiken. Not buying from puppy mills, and getting involved in rescue are also very positive options. No matter what, however, many animals that start as pets will end up euthanized.

However, try to use any of them in a research study and the Humane Society of the United States will have a fit!!

itsanotherday1 04/28/14 - 12:56 pm
My .02

Spay/neuter is the best option; but many ignorant folks think taking a male dog's testicles off somehow makes them less macho.

Dogs that have been sterilized are healthier, happier, live longer; but most of all, are less of a nuisance to everyone around.

I'm not a "more government and laws" type, but sometimes you need to enact laws and ordinances to force people to do the right thing. Maybe laws requiring pets to be "licensed" is the answer. Nominal to free cost for neutered/spayed animals, and $50 for those that are not. $150 fine for not licensing- first offense.

Numbers plucked out of the air, but you get the idea.

TheGeorgian 04/28/14 - 06:15 pm
If I had my way.....

If I had my way all dogs and cats NOT licensed as show animals/breeders would have to be spay/neutered. We have two dogs and five cats and all of 'em are fixed. (Two cats came from the shelter, three from rescue, one dog from an owner throwing him from a car, one dog from a breeder.) Oddly, women don't seem to have a hangup about their animals being 'fixed' but some men do. They think it's all about THEM and are far too unsure of their own masculinity to have a dog or cat neutered. Pathetic specimens of homo sapien. Women who fail to spay/neuter, in my experience, are just plain lazy and won't get off their butt and get it done. Hey, it's a once in a lifetime procedure. You're using more energy being evasive than having it performed. Get going!

billcass 04/28/14 - 07:42 pm
My experience

I wanted to adopt a cat from the shelter. They asked if I was going to have him declawed. When I said yes, they would not let me adopt him. I am sure it was euthanized. Tell me how that makes sense.

TrulyWorried 04/28/14 - 08:29 pm
Animals that have to be put down

It seems that it has not been too long that they built this brand new animal shelter on Mack Lane (or am I dreaming?) but 70% SEVENTY PERCENT??had to be put down? I cannot believe this. I thought there were comments made that the larger facility could accommodate a larger amount of animals.
And all the folks writing comments on this page are all so right - spaying, neutering - keeping a pet once you have it - it is God's creature and no better friend can be found.
Puppy mills should be outlawed, fined and shut down.
And,while on the subject of dogs, the people that want dogs to make fighting dogs out of them should be heavily fined and jailed, 1 year in jail and $5000 is not enough. Animal cruelty from the word go!
If a person is seen putting out an animal - take their license plate and report them.
The Humane Society on Wood St. can only do so much - they have lots of volunteers - can the same be accomplished at the Animal Shelter??.
What a joke for the name - "Animal Shelter" - they are getting sheltered alright -"killing station" is more appropriate.
I am 82 years old and found another animal by the side of the road in November, I had her spayed and gave her a home and made arrangements that she would be taken care of should she outlive me.
Our family rescued too many animals to count over the past 40 some years - a lot we kept and a lot we found homes for.
Don't let your dog have those "cute" puppies to then hand them out to anyone that comes along - - will they keep the poor creature once it is not a puppy anymore? Or will it be another number in the 70% at the "Animal Shelter"?
Why can't some energetic people with imagination get some sort of campaign going to call attention to all the poor creatures at the shelter that are waiting for a home where the can be loved? My age stops me from what I wish I could do. Please - those that care and can - help!!! God bless you!

nocnoc 04/28/14 - 08:00 pm
Whats this ????

Last year when we brought this up, we were told how wrong we were and that the kill rate was nowhere near the levels we stated.

Now we read they are HIGHER than we numbers we were challenged on?

At last the truth comes out.
It is not a shelter, it is kill factory.
With a 70% death rate (AT THE LEAST, MAYBE MORE)

painted lady
painted lady 04/28/14 - 09:41 pm
Adoption fees seem high. Add

Adoption fees seem high. Add to that the cost of the spay/neuter and it's no wonder more animals aren't adopted out. Maybe if the adoptions fees were lower more animals would be adopted. Columbia County charges $20 for puppies & kittens and $25 for adult cats & dogs.

Navy Gary
Navy Gary 04/28/14 - 10:15 pm

How can these places just kill healthy animals? I guess they think God put them in charge of cats and dogs. I could maybe understand if they were old or diseased but to kill them just because it's cheaper than feeding them.(?) That is just plain wrong. What are these people thinking? How can they reconcile that certain death for these animals with a needle is better than getting hit by a car or whatever fate might befall them had the "animal shelter" not intervened? We should all be ashamed that it is funded with our tax dollars.

Navy Gary
Navy Gary 04/28/14 - 10:25 pm

Billcass, although declawing used to be an accepted practice. It would be in fact the equivalent of removing the ends of a humans fingers BEHIND the fingernails. It is very painful for a cat and not just right after it's done either; for the rest of its life.

4_the_animals 04/29/14 - 12:20 am
Navy Gary, I know you mean

Navy Gary, I know you mean well when you think the animal shelter employees are bad people by killing these animals. Do you have a solution when 150 dogs come in the door unwanted, 15 get adopted, and the pens are full. But wait, 100 more just came in the door. Now what? stack them on top of each other? Pretend they aren't there? They don't want to euthanize these animals. It is the irresponsible people that are to blame for their deaths. Do the math.

Navy Gary
Navy Gary 04/29/14 - 01:01 am
Just don't kill them

Just don't kill them, find food, find homes. Let them go wild. Anything is better than killing them. Don't build an "animal shelter" and kill 70% of the pets. It just isn't right. Geez, the dogs at Michael Vick's house had a better mortality rate than the "animal shelter" and he did prison time.

4_the_animals 04/29/14 - 10:00 am
Let them run wild? Look at

Let them run wild? Look at Burke County. They have packs of dogs everywhere starving to death due to no animal control. And believe it or not, it is more humane to die with an injection than starving. Drive to Burke County and it won't take long to see them at dumpsters with no hair due to mange, every bone jutting out, and full of worms. Packs of dogs are killing people's pets, livestock and even attacking children, postal workers, bus drivers, etc. It is very dangerous to the animals as well as citizens. Animal shelters are put in place with tax money so stuff like Burke County doesn't happen in Richmond County. Imagine going out for your mail and have to carry a weapon due to the starving wild dogs. Imagine your pets outside unsafe due to the same. Killing them is not a good thing but it is the lesser of two evils. And until the community puts their well being as a priority, the killing will continue. The community is the bad guy here, not the animal shelter employees. Finding homes for them is out of the question as I said. If 100,000 come in the door and only 500 are adopted, what to do with the rest? People are still breeding, selling puppies, giving them away FTGH only to breed countless times, etc. In Burke County, when they are over run with unwanteds, they drop them at a dumpster to starve or be eaten by other animals, shoot them, or put litters of puppies in a bag and drop it in a pond. They have no shelter to take them to so they can have a humane death. And try finding a home for them in Burke County where they are a dime a dozen. They ship those dogs up north where there is a deficit of dogs. They license dogs up north and that has had a big impact on unwanted litters. Please see the big picture and aim your frustration at the right people.

4_the_animals 04/29/14 - 10:05 am
Spaying and Neutering is the

Spaying and Neutering is the key to the overpopulation crisis
I work at a vet's office and almost every day, people will say they are going to breed their dog and we
continue to educate as to why they shouldn't, especially if it isn't a
purebred dog. People don't understand that when they find "good" homes for
their unwanted animals, they usually are going to be bred and therefore make
more - adding to the problem. Irresponsibility and ignorance is fueling the
death of many healthy, beautiful dogs and cats. Preventing unwanted litters
is so much better than killing them at the shelter. Please spay and neuter!
It's a matter of life or death

Meena 04/29/14 - 06:55 pm
Semi Solution to the Augusta euthanasia rate--UHA

I recently moved from Los Angeles, CA and helped create a networking system for the dogs and cats in the Los Angeles County shelters.

(Some cities in L.A. have a mandatory Spay/Neuter Law which helps with
keeping the population down a bit.)

I am part of United Hope for Animals, and we have a shelter support system at Baldwin Park Shelter and at Downey Shelter in Los Angeles.
These shelters have anywhere from 300-400 animals at a time.

We have a trained some city shelters in Los Angeles how to get dogs and cats adopted to GOOD homes, and they have great success.

UHA is an all-voluteer program. Every two weeks we have a Glamour Shot Day at a shelter. We set up backdrops and have photographers, videographers, and experienced dog handlers take Glamour Shots of 60-80 dogs in 4-5 hours depending on our volunteer numbers.

We then write correct descriptions of the animals and put the ads on our FB page, United Hope for Animals website, Petfinder and Adopt A Pet.

We have a 95% success rate of the dogs we network.

I would love to teach a group of people out here our magic formula: fantastic photos, a great video, and an accurate description = ADOPTION.

My email:

jmho 05/05/14 - 10:19 pm
There is another way!

There are many programs that RCAC is not putting into action in order to save the homeless animals of Richmond County.

Rescue:They are not taking advantage of or working with the many rescues available to them. They alienate many by the unecessary requirements that go above and beyond GA Ag requirements. They "get even" with those who speak out against them by killing animals that the rescue is coming to pick up or by banning the rescue all together.

Volunteers: Volunteers are allowed at the shelter, but should be used smarter. Volunteers with special skills should be allowed to use those skills, especially if it helps get animals adopted. Volunteers are not allowed to post animals on petfinder.

Foster Homes: None

Trap, Neuter, Release: Nope!

Adoptions: Have you checked their hours? If you work, you can forget about getting there to adopt. (You will have to wait until Saturday and choose from a smaller group of animals at Petsmart).

High Volume, Low Cost Spay Neuter: Be proactive and provide services/funds for this. There is Money out there and available if they go looking for it!

Proactive Redemptions: Pick up a dog on his own street, has tags? neighbor tells ACO where he lives? Why take him in? How about a free ride home?

There is another way! End the killing! Find out more information here:

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