Animal Control: building on success
By Charlotte J. Nash, Chairman
Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
You may not have noticed, but the Gwinnett Animal Shelter has staged a dramatic turnaround over the past few years. A newfound spirit and enthusiasm for helping animals has spread quickly from the staff to the many volunteers and rescue groups who keep the place running on a daily basis.
Our shelter receives about 6,000 animals each year. The number euthanized has dropped from 7,850 in 2009 to 694 in 2015. Thousands of animals are now being saved each year by the combination of a bigger facility and a new emphasis on adoptions, rescues, and owner reclaims.
Shelter staff now works closely with Homeless Pet Clubs, Planned Pethood, Gwinnett County Veterinarians Association, Society of Humane Friends, the University of Georgia, the Holtkamp Foundation, Gwinnett Technical College, the Atlanta Apartment Association, Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District, and other public safety and animal rescue groups.
Donations from the public of almost $10,000 in 2013 purchased a commercial dishwasher for food dishes, which has greatly reduced upper respiratory and gastrointestinal infections at the shelter. Residents also donated 17 tons of pet food and supplies for the town of Moore, Oklahoma, following a devastating tornado several years ago.
In March of this year, we welcomed a new management team – Curt Harrell and Cindy Wiemann – who are now supervising the 24/7 facility at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville, its field operations, and its 41-member staff. They welcome your interest and involvement.
Curt brings more than 23 years of law enforcement leadership and organizational structure to the Gwinnett Police animal control unit with two master’s degrees plus teaching experience. Cynthia comes to us from the city of Madison, where she was the sole animal control officer. She serves on state and national boards of the Animal Care and Control Association, she’s a vet tech, and she’s affiliated with numerous animal rescue and foster groups.
So I want to encourage everyone to visit the shelter, adopt a new family member, maybe even volunteer to help out and keep the momentum going that we’ve enjoyed so much these past few years. You can also like the Gwinnett Animal Shelter on Facebook for timely tips on pet ownership, announcements of special events like low-cost vaccine clinics, and descriptions of cats and dogs that are available for adoption.
With the return of warm weather, I also want to remind you that new ordinance related to tethering, cruelty, neglect, and boarding took effect last summer. The ordinance also reflects new state laws regarding responsible dog ownership. Single-point tethering is no longer acceptable – a trolley system is now required. And owners must be outside, within sight of a tethered animal, or risk being cited for an ordinance violation. The complete text of the ordinance is available online at www.gwinnettanimalcontrol.com.
Let’s make Gwinnett a more enjoyable, compassionate place for everyone, no matter how many legs they have. Happy summer!