DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. – On the adoption floor at Dekalb Animal Services, each bark is a cry for love and attention.
The DeKalb County animal shelter is desperately searching for homes for more than a hundred dogs as they deal with a shelter that’s already at “critical capacity.”
LifeLine Animal Project, the organization that manages the shelter, says they urgently need adopters and fosters for at least 150 dogs by the end of January. If more of the dogs don’t leave the facility, officials say they will have to euthanize some of the animals to make space for those in need.
The shelter was built to house around 450 dogs at full capacity, but officials say there are nearly 600 dogs currently at the shelter, leaving it operating at critical capacity for more than a year.
“If you walk through the shelter, you’ll just see how many dogs, rows upon rows of them, that are just in desperate need of loving home,” said Rachel Mathews.
(LifeLine Animal Project)
Mathews and her husband were at the shelter to foster a dog.
For months they had considered adding a second one to their family and when they heard the shelter was at critical capacity they knew it was time.
“This was kind of the boot we needed to just get out there and help out the situation and hopefully, bring a new dog into our family,” Mathews said.
Adding to the struggle, a recent outbreak of canine flu has made the organization have to open a temporary shelter in Midtown to try and reduce the number of animals exposed to the virus.
“This is the most dire situation that we’ve ever been in,” said Lane Johnson, the Placement Manager at Dekalb County Animal Services.
(LifeLine Animal Project)
“The current economic situation, the nationwide drop in shelter adoptions and now, the emergence of canine flu in our community – all have negatively affected dogs, both inside and outside our shelters,” says Rebecca Guinn, CEO of LifeLine Animal Project. “In the past, we’ve had the capacity to create lifesaving options for dogs in our care who require more specialized placement. Now, we are completely out of options for many dogs and will have to make very painful decisions if we can’t get help from our community to quickly reduce the overall number of dogs living in our DeKalb shelter.”
“We’ve been working at well over capacity for over a year,” Johnson said. “That’s a huge strain on our staff. That’s a huge strain on the building and also on the animals. It’s very difficult to live in a place with that many animals.”
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Further complicating the matter, a recent outbreak of canine flu affected all three LifeLine shelters in DeKalb and Fulton Counties. A temporary shelter, LifeLine Midtown, has been opened to divert some dog intake from LifeLine’s primary shelters during the outbreak.
To try to incentivize donations, all four LifeLine shelters are reducing the price of adoption to $23. That includes all vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and microchipping – services valued at $250.
“We do have people that are coming out and trying to help, and that’s what we need,” Johnson said. “We need the community to respond the same way that they did during COVID.”
To view animals available for adoption at the shelter, visit the DekKalb Animal Services website.