By Charlotte J. Nash, Chairman
Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
It’s been a wild summer at Gwinnett’s Animal Welfare and Enforcement Center.
Last spring, we got word that our shelter was among 50 finalists in the national ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge. The goal is to beat our own adoption-rate record from last summer by as much as possible and win cash prizes for the shelter.
Our staff was already on a roll inspired by a new manager, Gwinnett Police Sgt. Chip Moore, who took the reins two years ago. The number of animals the shelter euthanized dropped from 7,850 in 2009 to just 2,467 in 2013. That effort recently won recognition from the National Association of Counties in the category of County Administration and Management.
Moore is quick to give credit to others for the turnaround. “It’s all because of the staff and volunteers who work here. They’re passionate about what they do and our numbers reflect their efforts,” said Moore who has adopted three dogs and two cats himself.
Shelter staff members oversee a successful volunteer program, a partnership with Homeless Pet Clubs, a rescue group outreach program, classes for pets and owners, public education efforts, and many adoption events at the shelter and in the community. They organize shot and microchip clinics, spay and neuter clinics, Itty Bitty Kitties to help newborn kittens, the Paws and Pages reading program with therapy dogs, and a barn cats program that puts neutered feral cats to work providing natural pest control at farms and stables with help from Planned Pethood.
To step it up another notch or two this summer, staff and volunteers went to heroic lengths to find new homes for homeless pets. A proactive series of adoption events brought people together with ready-to-adopt animals at various venues around the county.
In July, a successful third annual Adoption Explosion kicked off with a motorcycle ride fundraiser followed by a free car show and kids’ activities to help draw families to the shelter.
The shelter also reduced adoption fees for the summer – $30 for dogs and $20 each for cats or two for $30. Adoption fees include spay/neuter, the first round of vaccinations, and a microchip.
We saved 563 animals in June compared to 416 during the same month last year. Final numbers for the remainder of the summer – and the competition results – were not yet available at deadline. The contest ends on August 31.
Win or lose, we’ll need to continue spay/neuter, microchip, and rescue and adoption programs in order to manage our pet population here in Gwinnett. Homes and volunteers will always be welcome.
To learn more about the shelter’s service or to view current pictures of adoptable dogs and cats, go to www.gwinnettanimalcontrol.com.