Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Today I Saved A Life

Today I had the opportunity to visit the Fulton County Animal Shelter in Atlanta.  By most standards it would be considered a 'high kill' shelter as they are forced to play a shell game with limited space to keep animals, mostly dogs and cats.  There were nearly 150 dogs there today and in the hour or so I was inside and could observe, 4 more were brought in.  Much longer there and I would have been in tears thinking about all those sweet puppies being euthanized...  In those moments it wouldn't take much to turn me into the crazy eccentric that has 50 pets in the yard.

Photo courtesy of Fulton County Animal Shelter
The adoption fee for "Jerry," a Pit Bull (or possibly Pit/Mix of some sort) who will be renamed Tiger was just $20.  It was so low because this absolutely sweet, loving, bubbly-personality of wiggly, kissy puppydom has gone unclaimed and unadopted for more than a month.  He's got a stay of execution this long because his demeanor has made him a staff favorite and they kept voting him a reprieve hoping someone would come along and offer him the gift of a forever home.  Dogs that are older, frightened, sick, shy or aggressive don't get the extra chances.

By paying his adoption fee, I got to unite Tiger with his family today!

The adoption fee covers a general check up from their vet, all the shots needed to bring him current, treatment for any medical needs he might have, neutering and microchipping.  You also get a coupon for a free check up from a vet you choose from their list of a couple dozen in the area that participate in the adoption program.  Like I said, his fee was reduced to just $20 as a last ditch incentive to get him adopted.  Normally, for dogs who've not been there so long, the fee is $85.  And that's still a bargain for all that you get!

A little more about Tiger
He really does look like a Tiger!  He's 20X cuter than his picture...  And his whole butt wiggles when he wags his tail and curls into a snuggly little ball to lick your face in the softest puppy kisses I've ever felt.  You can almost hear him say "Kissing your cheek is like my favorite thing ever!"  And then he sees a tennis ball in the grass and is all about "A tennis ball!!!  Only like my favorite thing ever!"  Tiger greets everything with joyful enthusiasm.  He gets along well with any of the other dogs he's been penned or out in the play yard with.  I doubt given his age and history that he's had any training at all but he walks calmly on a leash already.

How has he gone so long without someone falling head over heals in love with him?

Tiger is going to make a wonderful pet!  And happily, he'll be well loved in his new home and spend many happy days romping in the yard chasing tennis balls... and maybe the occasional squirrel.

What I Saw at the Fulton County Animal Shelter
It was crowded, with as many as 6 dogs to a pen.  And noisy with lots of barking and many fans running full blast.  And so hot!  Most of the dog cages were, I'm guessing, 6 X 10 feet chain link enclosures in 4 long rows.  The first few pens in one row was gated off to allow for quarantine of  animals with that kind of need.  And there were some stacked crates (with towels in the bottom so they weren't on bare wire) for the very small dogs and cats.

I bet you're thinking it must have been stinky, too.  But it wasn't.  Everything, including the painted concrete floor, was very clean.  And it was well staffed by people who treated the dogs with great kindness and could speak with us knowledgeably about each of them.  Even the office staff where you step into another room to fill out the adoption paperwork and pay the fee knew the dogs by name and could speak intelligently about their special needs, temperaments, and any known history.

Other than the tugging on my heartstrings I would call the whole visit very positive.

And it made me decide that when we have old bedding and towels, I'm going to take them to the shelter rather than discarding or sending them to a thrift store.  And if we are ever throwing out working fans, that's who I'll think of first.  When we have money coming in more dependably, I may even purchase linens at garage sales just to donate and give these animals at least some small comfort in life.  It's such a little thing I can do and it will meet a very real need.  I would also encourage others both to donate and to go there when they are ready to add another set of furry paws to their family.

Pound puppies are awesome!

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