By Joel Hall
According to Clayton County officials, for the past two years, the county has led the state in the number of dogs and cats euthanized due to high numbers of stray and forfeited animals.
In response, the Clayton County Animal Control Department and Clayton County Humane Society are combining their efforts to find homes for as many of the pets at the Animal Control Facility as possible.
From 9 a.m., to 3 p.m., on Saturday, Aug. 28, the animal control facility will host its first ever Pet Adoption Day -- a one-day event in which the operation will open its doors to the public in an effort to adopt out all of its animals. For that day only, the county will reduce its regular adoption rates for cats and dogs by $25, provide complementary on-site vaccinations, and offer reduced-priced rabies shots.
Capt. Mark Thompson, head of Clayton's Animal Control Department, said that every month, the county receives 400 to 500 dogs, despite having only 74 cages that accommodate dogs. He said the vast majority of the dogs brought to the center are animals whose owners "have simply given up on the pet."
"Typically, an animal is given three business days before it is euthanized," Thompson said. "If I no longer have the space to take in animals, I am authorized to do euthanizations before the three days. A lot more people are saying that they can't afford their animals anymore, because of the economy. We try to offer them free dog food, and let them know that when they release their dog to us, they are authorizing us to euthanize them ... But people have often made up their minds once they come to the door.
"The animal [control] shelter has long been seen as an adversary of the Humane Society," he continued. "We want to show ... that we're actually working hand-in-hand. We're trying to make it [animal adoption] as affordable as possible. On the week of the pet adoption fair, I will reduce the number of authorized euthanizations, so we can have more animals to showcase."
On Pet Adoption Day, the cost of adopting female cats and dogs will be $40 and $50, respectively, and the cost of adopting male cats and dogs will be $30 and $40, respectively, according to Thompson. He said the cost will cover spaying and neutering of the animals, as well as basic vaccination fees.
Maria Dorough serves as community outreach coordinator for the Clayton County Humane Society, which operates the county's only no-kill animal shelter. She said the Human Society often refers pet buyers to the Clayton County Animal Control Facility, because the animals there typically have less time to live.
"When people come to us, we actually refer a lot of people to here," Dorough said Friday at the Animal Control Facility. "Animal control isn't just trying to get rid of animals. This is a very rescue-friendly shelter, and we want people to know that. No one wants to see animals euthanized here. Since this is a kill shelter, we try to get as many out as we can."
Dorough said that in the week leading up to Pet Adoption Day, most of the Animal Control Facility's cats and dogs will be advertised on the Petfinder.com web site.
The Clayton County Animal Control Facility is located at 1396 Government Circle, Jonesboro, Ga. 30236. For more information, or to inquire about business partnerships, call (770) 477-3509.