Transport rescue effort could benefit dogs at Augusta shelter

Friday, June 20, 2014 6:01 PM
Last updated Sunday, June 22, 2014 5:19 PM
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Some of the 52 once-doomed dogs were puppies, and others were fully grown. They were a blend of collies, hounds and Labrador mixes.

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Highway, a 5-month-old pit bull mix, is available for adoption. Richmond County's euthanization rate is more than twice Columbia County's.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Highway, a 5-month-old pit bull mix, is available for adoption. Richmond County's euthanization rate is more than twice Columbia County's.

Margie Griggs and other volunteers for Old Fella Ani­­mal Rescue hand-picked them from kill shelters, found them on the sides of roads or found them dumped in their yards by strangers.

On June 11, a handful of Old Fella volunteers fostering the group of 52 dogs met at Wal-Mart in Waynesboro, Ga., where they waited for a Sprinter van with air conditioning, stainless-steel cages and a mission.

Puppy Pipeline Rescue of Georgia was there to drive the dogs 1,000 miles to a shelter in Salem, Mass., where they would be adopted out to families that wait hours in line for a Southern mutt.

“We were all standing out there taking pictures and waving to the van taking off,” Griggs said. “I get goose bumps just thinking about it because their lives could have been so different.”

With 6,500 unwanted animals euthanized last year at Augusta Animal Services – more than 70 percent of the dogs and cats dumped there – some shelter officials are pushing to use this cross-country transportation strategy to make the local facility no-kill.

Augusta’s animal overpopulation problem is complex, but shelter advisory board member Aimee Murphy said the search for a solution no longer can wait.

“We’re not just yelling from the sidelines anymore,” said Murphy, one of five advisory board members working on the proposal. “We need a public outcry. This is urgent. There are literally places up North clamoring for them, and we’re killing them.”

Stopping overpopulation

There is no straightforward remedy for pet overpopulation, and it does not get solved overnight, said Cory Smith, the director of pet protection and policy for the Humane Society of the United States.

Spay-and-neuter laws aren’t foolproof because communities rarely back them up with accessible and low-cost clinics to help pet owners comply, she said.

Education is key, but it’s difficult to reach the rural, low-income areas where overpopulation is rampant.

Transporting animals to Nor­thern shelters with a low supply of animals doesn’t address the root ill of the issue, Smith said, but some shelters have come up with innovative ways to reduce kill rates.

“We can’t adopt our way out of the overpopulation problem,” she said. “It’s a holistic approach. You have to get outside the shelter walls on a community level. It’s about reaching the community with your message and making it easy for people to spay and neuter, not just requiring them to.”

Murphy said her group is looking at using resources such as the Northeast Animal Shelter, the facility in Salem that received Old Fella’s 52 rescue dogs this month. Last year, Northeast found homes for 4,800 dogs from 12 states, including eight in the South, according to Jane Taubeneck, the program coordinator for the shelter’s Puppies Across America Program.

The average time an animal waits at the shelter before being adopted is two days, she said.

“We get 60 to 70 puppies every other week from Alabama,” Taube­neck said. “They come in, finish quarantine and people are lined up outside to adopt them. We are afraid at some point we’re going to saturate the area.”

Like Georgia, Massachusetts requires pets to be sterilized – or promised to be sterilized – to be released from a pound, shelter or public rescue, but it is without a spay-and-neuter law for pet owners. Still, Taubeneck said, strays are rare in the affluent state, and spay-and-neuter compliance is natural.

“It’s very rare to see a dog running free on the street … which is why we can help so many other states,” Taubeneck said.

Northeast Animal Shelter requires each adopter to show proof of home ownership or written approval from a landlord and provide two references to take an animal; it charges $450 for puppies, $225 for kittens and $225 for mature dogs.

The U.S. Department of Agri­culture requires animals traveling across state lines to be fully vaccinated, and the cost of that sometimes
falls on the rescuers sending them.

Taubeneck said her organization reimburses part of the medical and travel costs – up to $50 per dog – lightening the burden on many small, private rescues.

Home for Good Dog Rescue in Berk­eley Heights, N.J., travels to kill shelters in Georgia and South Carolina and drives dogs to foster homes in New Jersey until they are adopted.

Since it opened in August 2010, the rescue has transported and found homes for 2,700 dogs, according to public relations officer Jackie Bucuk.

Run on donations and grants, the rescue covers vaccinations and transport costs and pays adoption fees to kill shelters that charge them to take dogs off “death row,” Bucuk said.

“The overpopulation problem down there is just different,” Bucuk said, and the average amount of time dogs wait in foster homes to be adopted is one to two weeks. “That shows we have a lot invested here in controlling the problem.”

Adoption policy hurdles

Murphy, of the Augusta Animal Ser­vices advisory board, said the biggest hurdle hindering the movement is the shelter’s policy to not release unaltered animals to rescue groups.

Georgia law requires public shelters to sterilize animals before relinquishing them to rescue groups or private citizens, but it also allows shelters to enter into written contracts with the person or group acquiring the animal guaranteeing the new owner would spay or neuter the pet within 30 days.

After the Augusta shelter lost its part-time veterinarian – who performed sterilizations – in March, it has had to call outside vets to come in until a full-time vet can be hired in December.

Still, Director Sharon Broady said she will not allow unaltered pets to be relinquished to rescue groups, even on a contract that they will arrange a spay/neuter, because of low compliance in the past.

In an e-mail interview, Broady said that she is open to exploring options to lower euthanasia rates but that a no-kill shelter would require “a new facility, additional staff, to include another veterinarian, vet
techs and a much larger budget.”

She said it would also require changing laws to require spaying and neutering to reduce the number of animals ending up at the shelter.

Broady pointed out the difficulty facing all municipal animal control facilities to realistically become no-kill because by law they cannot turn away any animal. That includes taking in the deathly ill, unmanagably aggressive dogs, and healthy animals when already over capacity.

In general, shelters can be considered no-kill if their euthanasia rate is below 10 percent and reserved only for animals severely ill or too behaviorally challenged to be adopted.

Columbia County Animal Ser­vices manages a 30 percent kill rate, less than half of Richmond County’s, even without a full-time vet on staff, according to its manager, Linda Glasscock.

Glasscock said outreach and activism are vital. Her staff of 13 visits parks and events to show the public photos of adoptable animals and hand out information about spay-and-neuter services. They visit schools to teach about proper animal care and hold field trips to the facility.

Out of the 1,400 animals euthanized last year, Glasscock said, only 245 were healthy animals killed for lack of space and the remaining 1,155 were aggressive or sick animals that could not be adopted.

Glasscock allows unaltered animals to be adopted, and she said her staff is proactive about making sure owners obey the law. If they do not return evidence of the spay or neuter in 30 days, they are cited, referred to court, and face a fine or jail time.

“None of them get by without getting it done – none,” said Glasscock, who took 69 owners to court last year.

Euthanasia alternatives

In Atlanta, LifeLine Animal Pro­ject founder Rebecca Guinn took control of Fulton and DeKalb county animal control through a contract in 2013 and manages a 20 percent kill rate at both shelters – down from almost 50 percent the year before.

Transporting animals to Nor­thern states is a small part of her operation of 130 employees, but she said her bread and butter is outreach. Before taking over the two municipal shelters, her rescue opened two spay-and-neuter clinics that are still in operation and self-sustaining.

Her shelters – which took in 9,000 animals in Fulton County last year and 7,000 in DeKalb County, compared with 9,300 in Augusta – conduct spay-and-neuter outreach in low-income communities and hold regular adoption events.

“It’s about making the services accessible and affordable to the people who need it,” said Guinn, a former Atlanta lawyer turned animal rescuer.

There are five spay-and-neuter clinics within 20 miles of Augusta, but Augusta Animal Services advisory board member Willene Colvin said it’s not enough.

Colvin said that until spay-and-neuter education in the community becomes inherent, more action is needed.

“It’s easier to kill them than it is to work with people to get them out, but we have to try,” Colvin said. “There’s a lot more animals that could be saved. There are people up North very, very serious about taking dogs from our kill shelters. We can’t wait anymore.”

Comments (21) Add comment
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itsanotherday1
48261
Points
itsanotherday1 06/20/14 - 06:22 pm
2
0
Sooooo....

Whatever the "north" is doing to have a shortage of unwanted pets; we should try to emulate.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 06/21/14 - 08:24 am
0
0
A good friend of
Unpublished

my wife and I, Ken Carvahlo here in Cherokee county, Georgia, will make trips all over Georgia and Alabama to Boston, Minneapolis and New Jersey to save these wonderful pets. It keeps him on the road, away from his wife and fantastic home most of the time, but he wouldn't dream of not saving the animals lives. He does get paid for this service but not enough for the sacrifices he makes to truly rescue these "four-legged people". In his spare time, he's a member of a Harley-Davidson (sic) motorcycle group.

Little Lamb
48959
Points
Little Lamb 06/21/14 - 05:16 pm
2
6
English convention:

Okay, here are some snippets from the story:

. . . There are literally places up North clamoring for them. . . .

. . . Transporting animals to Northern shelters having a low supply of animals doesn’t address the root ill of the issue. . . .

Reporter McManus needs to re-read her fifth grade English grammar books and recall that directional words are not to be capitalized.
. . .

burninater
9921
Points
burninater 06/21/14 - 06:33 pm
4
3
Look before you leap

LL, you are incorrect.

When referring to a geographic region, a directional word IS capitalized.

It is clear from the article that the author is not speaking about shelters merely in the direction "north," but shelters in the region the "North," comprising "Northern shelters".

TrulyWorried
16487
Points
TrulyWorried 06/21/14 - 06:55 pm
6
0
Unwanted animals

Stop this exercise in grammar.
Everybody please concentrate on the plight of the animals - try to think of ways to help these creatures getting them up North. Maybe the SPCA of Georgia can help - many may have ideas that we don't but those that can PLEASE help these animals in any way you can. Thank you!!

PS: This disfunctional county wastes money on projects by the millions, no need to detail you all know. Order, don't ask your commissioner (he works for you) to act now and do what they do in Burke County. Richmond County always seems to pull out millions of dollars in excess SPLOST money for all sort of stupid purposes, such as the Modjeska Theater and a million for Paine College, a PRIVATE College - this is public money, just two examples. Watch TV and they will come up with a new one every day. Take the money that is sitting in the bank and use it for humanitarian uses - THIS purpose - ANIMALS!!!

Tracey McManus
55
Points
Tracey McManus 06/21/14 - 06:46 pm
8
0
Fifth grade

Thanks for the info, Little Lamb.
The capitalization in the story is correct. Like the majority of newspapers, the Chronicle follows AP style, which actually capitalizes geographic regions like "up North" and "Northern shelters."
Also - I made it past my fifth grade grammar books and even into journalism school!!

dwb619
104004
Points
dwb619 06/21/14 - 06:53 pm
4
1
Adopt! Don't Shop!

Adopt!
Don't Shop!

Little Lamb
48959
Points
Little Lamb 06/21/14 - 07:14 pm
0
7
Preposition

The AP is not the end all and be all of correctness. There is not a valid reason to make a general direction a proper noun with a capital letter. "Up north" is far preferable to "up North," no matter what the AP style manual says. Check with Ms. Magillicuddy, your 5th grade English teacher.

Speaking of "up north," we get into a world of relativity. If someone in Chicago reads this story, does the preposition "up" really help her understand this story? In Chicago, there might be a major street named North. There certainly is an avenue named North in Atlanta. Capitalizations should be for proper names, not vague "regions" and certainly not for directions, such as "up."

specialist
209
Points
specialist 06/21/14 - 07:33 pm
5
0
No-kill shelter

The animal control facilities all across Georgia could become no kill shelters if the legislature would simply ban puppy mills, including the home grown types. These home grown types are not only saturating the state with enormous populations of all pets, but they are hiding their income from both state and federal taxes. There is not any recourse against these back yard litters. The Department of Agriculture should be seeking out these people and prosecuting. Also ban, by law, any advertising in any printed media the sale of animals. In fact, the newspapers should voluntarily bar this type of advertising. That includes I wanta and like media. Our facilities CAN become no-kill if the Gov. Would follow through.

specialist
209
Points
specialist 06/21/14 - 07:40 pm
5
0
No-kill animal control facilities

Sure would like to see Sylvia Cooper chime in on this issue !

corgimom
38317
Points
corgimom 06/21/14 - 07:42 pm
2
1
I'd be interested in a female

I'd be interested in a female Welsh corgi, if there's one available. My house is Doggie Heaven on Earth; they are all spoiled rotten, given the best of care, and deeply loved.

dwb619
104004
Points
dwb619 06/21/14 - 08:41 pm
4
1
Gwinnett County Animal Services

We rescued a young female pitt who was "out of time" from this facility in Lawrenceville.
I don't know anything about their funding,budget,etc.
However, they have a large presence on social media, and I am told a very low kill ratio.
We were very impressed with the staff and facility.

burninater
9921
Points
burninater 06/21/14 - 08:15 pm
5
1
"Capitalizations should be

"Capitalizations should be for proper names, not vague "regions" and certainly not for directions, such as "up." "
-------
LL, your statement that capitalizations should not be used for "regions" is simply incorrect. Specific geographic regions ARE capitalized. That's basic grammar -- not just AP style guide grammar.

The author wasn't saying "up north", as in ANYPLACE to the north. The author was speaking of a specific geographic region, the North. There is also no ambiguity in this formulation, despite your claim otherwise. If it had read "up north", then there would have been ambiguity -- north of what? By capitalizing "north," it is unambiguously clear the article is talking about the geographic region "the North". It doesn't matter if you are in Chicago, or Atlanta ... the North is the North.

Try this sanity check of your claim: look at any reputably published history of the Civil War. Do they describe it as north vs south, or North vs South?

Here are some grammatical sources as well, to clarify your confusion:

http://www.proofreadnow.com/blog/bid/30440/North-East-South-or-West-Capi...
http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/capital.asp (see rule 7)
http://writingexplained.com/when-to-capitalize-directions
http://writing2.richmond.edu/writing/wweb/capital.html
http://web.mit.edu/comdor/editguide/style-matters/capitalization.html
http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0771333.html
http://www.utexas.edu/brand-guidelines/writing-style-guide/capitalization

burninater
9921
Points
burninater 06/21/14 - 08:24 pm
4
0
Also, spay and neuter your

Also, spay and neuter your pets, and don't give puppy mills your business.

The fact that the North has to accommodate the irresponsibility of some folks in the South would be just plain embarrassing, if the underlying issue weren't so tragic.

foxsilong
908
Points
foxsilong 06/22/14 - 12:34 am
4
0
More important things than confronting AP style with journalists

Find out what you can do to help with those poor animals.....
Like I adopted a dog, and as soon as I move into a house, I'm adopting more animals.

corgimom
38317
Points
corgimom 06/22/14 - 05:29 am
0
1
Savage Madam, she looks like

Savage Madam, she looks like a very sweet girl, but they want her to be an only dog- she would have 3 siblings here. And I would want a younger dog, I already have a 14 year old, an 11 year old, and a 7 year old dog here at the Corgi Mansion.

Bulldog
1333
Points
Bulldog 06/22/14 - 09:01 am
1
1
philosophy

As I read this article, a basic question crept into my mind. Which is better; no life at all, or some life, no matter what its quality? If an organism is never created, is that better than a life which does not run its complete natural course? Once an organism no longer exists, does the length or quality of its prior life matter? Does that apply to any sentient being? Non-sentient?

Mcycleman1
70
Points
Mcycleman1 06/22/14 - 09:49 am
2
3
Socio economics

The MAIN problem is that this issue is largely created by POOR people who by the way also have a culture that this situation is normal. I'm just going to put that out there. Poor people do not generally read the newspapers, are not informed about these issues and if they are, they don't care. Therein lies the problem. Since legally you cannot compel them to fix their animals (they always have ample supply don't they), there will be no gargantuan solution without a legal mandate. I do applaud everyone who helps this cause! As a society though, if we want to get a handle on it, must get the root of the problem...

TrulyWorried
16487
Points
TrulyWorried 06/22/14 - 12:42 pm
4
0
Old Fella Rescue

and all the people involved - thank you and God bless you for what you are doing!

stephr721
204
Points
stephr721 06/23/14 - 01:31 pm
5
0
No, it's not poor people.

I have volunteered for many years at shelters in different parts of the country. Pet overpopulation and overflowing shelters are not the fault of poor people. Poor people aren't keeping breeders (and puppy mills) in business, and they don't buy designer dogs as status symbols. A huge problem is a rapidly aging population that is not making plans for their animals if they can no longer care for them, if they have to move to a facility, or when they die. Their children (if they have them) are not interested in taking the animals into their homes, so they get dropped off at the shelter. People need to treat animal ownership as the commitment that it is, and include their animals in estate planning.

katApillar1
9
Points
katApillar1 06/23/14 - 10:39 am
2
0
The problem I have with

The problem I have with Richmond Co. Animal Services is their hours of operation. They are only open during the week for four to five hours while people are at work. They are closed on the weekend when people are home. Saturday adoptions sound pretty good to me. How can they possibly think that these poor animals can get adopted when their hours are so limited to the public? I also want to add, all animals are precious but please don't over look the older ones. They need homes and love too.

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