The Athens Animal Shelter is teeming with cats and dogs during a seasonal peak that has inflated the facility to near capacity.
Athens-Clarke County Animal Services operates a shelter for abandoned and stray animals, primarily cats and dogs. The shelter has 53 dog cages and as of Friday they had 55 dogs, including a mother and eight puppies, who were not in a cage but were kept in a separate room.
The shelter also has nearly 200 cats and kittens available for adoption, 90 of which are in foster homes and the other 100 are in the Buddy Christian Way facility. There are also about fifteen dogs in foster care.
Spring and summer typically see a peak of animals at the shelter, explained Kristall Barber, director of animal services at ACC. Also, more kittens and puppies tend to be born at this time.
Barber also suspects that the increase in the number of animals is due to more surrenders from owners than usual. While there is the phenomenon of “pandemic pets” – or animals adopted during COVID-19 quarantine – Barber said most animals adopted during this time have fortunately not returned to the shelter.
The shelter is now planning shifts for two to four weeks, asking owners to wait a bit so they can eliminate the animals they already have.
“We’re trying to say to people, ‘Look, can you keep it for a few weeks? We don’t have space; let us take some cages so we can have your pet here and you don’t have to make any other decisions, ”said Barber.
And some of those “other decisions” could be euthanasia, which the shelter has not had to perform since March 2020. But since the facility is a municipal shelter, euthanasia is an option if the space becomes an area. problem and that there are no other options.
There are options before reaching euthanasia, such as sending animals to foster families or rescues. In fact, on Friday, Marietta’s Our Pal’s Place rescue group was at the Athens shelter to pick up some of the dogs.
The shelter is also currently overrun because it had to close for a few days after a dog, Tsunami, was discovered to have parvovirus, a contagious and deadly canine disease.
The shelter was forced into quarantine until August 4, and all dogs entering the shelter were then taken to Oconee County, where they will remain until Monday. Tsunami was the only dog to catch the parvovirus and she has since recovered.
Tsunami will be available for adoption, along with all other dogs, Saturday from noon to 3.
During this time, visitors can enter without an appointment to meet and adopt the dogs and cats. Otherwise, those interested in adopting or visiting the shelter will need to make an appointment due to COVID-19.
For those who cannot adopt, the shelter also needs dog and cat homes. Applicants can go to the Animal Services website and select the “Community Services” and “Hospitality” tab to complete the form. A home check will be conducted by video due to the pandemic and successful applicants will be matched with the animal that best suits them.
When someone welcomes an animal, the shelter will provide all food, medical supplies, bedding, and anything the animal may need.
The shelter also accepts donations, including food, toys, treats and cat litter. Barber asked that any cash donation be given to Athens Pets, a local voluntary organization, rather than the shelter.