Rumors that the Macon-Bibb county animal shelter conducted a mass euthanasia this week are unfounded, Macon.com reports. While it was rumored that the shelter would euthanized 16 to 18 dogs this week, in reality only five or six were put down due to the poor condition of the animals’ health.
The Macon-Bibb shelter is a true “last stop” shelter for animals found on the streets. After an animal is brought in, owners have a week to claim it before it can either be adopted out, sent to another shelter, or—in the worst cases—put down. The shelter is required by the state to keep animals moving through the shelter, which means that when it reaches full capacity, some animals must be put down simply to make available space.
However, since the shelter started receiving donations from members of the community, more animals that would have been facing euthanasia have been going home to happy families for free.
Animal control officer Ginger Gamble has been working at the shelter for about four months, and she has seen a significant change since the donations started coming in.
“Since we’ve had the free adoptions, we get a few [adoptions] a week. Without it, about four or five a month. With the donations they’ve almost doubled,” Gamble said.
The shelter has received four substantial donations, three of which have contributed $750 toward adoptions.
The first of the donors, local real estate agent Mallory Jones, put his donation of $750 through just after Christmas.
Jones said, “I’ve always been a big animal lover and I know they’ve got deplorable conditions as far as the facilities go, and they have to put down so many animals.”
He said that he wanted to “bring attention to the center, bring attention to the animals, so we could save some lives.”
Jones made his donation to local animal rescue group Central Georgia Cares, who in turn sent it to Northside Wesleyan Animal Hospital. Local vets Dr. Christopher Grice and Edsel Davis used the money to pay for operations to spay and neuter the animals and to give them their rabies shots. This way, people could adopt animals from the shelter without having to pay the mandatory veterinary fees. They could take their new pets home for free.
Jones’s donation paid for the free adoptions of 10 animals. Not long after word got around about Jones’s donation, three more donors stepped up in succession to offer contributions to the shelter.
“We’re just so pleased about it,” said Animal Control Officer Van Vanderwalker. “Nobody understands what it’s like—unless they do it—to put an animal down. This has been a godsend.”
Jones said he was surprised and delighted by the other donations. He said, “The snowball effect has been wonderful because we’ve saved 44 animals who could have been euthanized.”
The shelter has made great improvements since this time last year. Rescue groups such as Macon Purrs N Paws, ARC Humane Society and Have a Heart, Save a Life have been coming in to take dogs and cats and send them to other shelters or available foster or permanent homes. Vanderwalker said that thanks to the rescue groups, euthanasia rates have decreased from 300 to around 40.
Whether or not the “snowball effect” continues, big changes are in store for the animal shelter. Thanks to the SPLOST Act that passed in November, $3 million have been allotted to create a new shelter for the animals with a larger holding capacity. The current shelter can only hold 80 dogs and 20 cats, and it is located near the town dump.
“No one wants to come down here. It’s the absolute worst location,” Vanderwalker said. “It’s an old eyesore. We’re so looking forward to the new facilities. And it will be so much better for the animals.”
The county will hold a meeting at 7:00 p.m. Thurs., Feb. 9 to discuss the design of the new shelter. It is expected to be well-attended by animal rights groups, according to Macon.com.
In the meantime, Vanderwalker hopes that the donations will continue to come through so that many animals can be adopted.
“You have to remember—none of these animals deserve to be put down. None of them,” Vanderwalker said. “And we’re forced to do it. I don’t ever want to do it again, but I know I have to.”
At the very least, Jones intends to keep the ball rolling.
“It’s going to continue as far as I’m concerned,” Jones said. “I hope to do it again next year around Thanksgiving, for 12 dogs instead of 10.”