DeKalb County’s troubled animal shelter spurs fundraiser for spay, neuter program this Sunday

By David Pendered

A spay and neuter program for animals whose future offspring may otherwise be destined for DeKalb County’s troubled animal shelter will be the beneficiary of a bowling fundraiser scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Stone Mountain.

Proceeds of the event will go toward a sterilization program in a county where more than 5,000 animals a year are euthanized, according to a report issued in February by a county task force.

DeKalb’s a kill rate was about 60 percent of the 8,500 animals handled annually at the county’s shelter, according to the report. DeKalb’s rate is higher than reported in Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties, although those counties handle fewer animals.

Labrador, baby male at DeKalb County's animal shelter

Six out of 10 animals taken in by DeKalb County's animal shelter are euthanized, according to a county report. Credit: DeKalb County Animal Services

Click here to read the full report.

The cost of tickets for the bowling event is $30 for an adult and $20 for a child age 12 years and younger. Hours are from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The fee includes bowling, a game package and light refreshments at Stars and Strikes, a facility located in a shopping center at 1741 Mountain Industrial Blvd. in Stone Mountain.

The fundraiser is being hosted by DeKalb County commissioners Elaine Boyer, Stan Watson and Sharon Barnes-Sutton.

“This fundraiser is a first step toward raising awareness of our animals’ needs in DeKalb,” Boyer said in a statement. “So many four-legged creatures who cannot speak for themselves need care and our fundraiser will help make sure we stop the cycle of overpopulation.”

To buy tickets for the fundraising event, go to www.helpdekalbanimals.com or contact Boyer at this copy-and-paste address: ecboyer@dekalbcountyga.gov.

“Animals deserve an opportunity to find a forever home, and this is a fun way for the community to get together and support efforts to connect families and pets,” Watson said in the statement.

“I am happy to participate in this opportunity to raise funds to improve the conditions at our animal shelter and to engage the community in helping provide resources and quality care for our animals,” Barnes-Sutton said in the statement.

DeKalb County Animal Services Task Force Report

A DeKalb County task force reported grim conditions in the county's animal shelter.

DeKalb’s Board of Commissioners created the DeKalb Animal Services Task Force to respond to the high rate of euthansia at the county’s shelter. The group convened in March 2011 and worked for eight months. The group’s findings and recommendations are included in a 45-page report released Feb. 24.

The results show how quickly demand for animal services has outpaced the county’s services.

The shelter is in a building constructed in 1989. It measures 22,000 square feet, which provides 14,000 square feet in holding space and 167 built-in dog runs.

The building historically has been hard to find because of poor signage, the report said. One sign on the site that was prominent read: “Adoption Site: Kittens and Cats, Puppies and Dogs” beneath the word, “INCINERATOR,” according to the report.

Here are some headlines from the report:

  • “The facility is dirty, malodorous, wet and dark.
  • “Pests (insect and mammalian) are a constant problem.
  • “Standing water promotes the growth of bacteria and mold and provides a medium for the spread of feline and canine-specific deadly diseases like parvo, leading to further unnecessary suffering and death of animals housed there.
  • “Operationally, the function is understaffed in three areas: animal care in the kennel, field operations, and all adoption or other lifesaving services.
  • “The animal care, adoption, and field operations are significantly under-resourced and provide the foundation for a spiral of decline exemplified by the current conditions and outcomes.”

But not all was doom and gloom in the report. The county’s animal cruelty unit earned a shout out:

  • “Recognizing the relationship between animal neglect and abuse with domestic abuse and other criminal behavior, the newly established animal cruelty unit is a highlight and distinguishes DeKalb from any other county in the state of Georgia. Its success suggests that the provision of properly directed new resources and focus are forerunners of overall transformation.”

About David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with nearly 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.
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