Smelly cat, hot wings: Things Atlanta police say you should not call 911 for

You are supposed to call 911 in an emergency, but oftentimes dispatchers are faced with calls that are not.

While one call may not seem like a big deal, dispatchers say they get them so often that it can slow down the response to real emergencies.

"I'm calling because the cat got the house smelling bad ma’am," one man told a 911 dispatcher. "She’s trying to burn incense here."

RELATED: Atlanta man calls 911 over cat's smelly litter box

"I'm on the street, I was just wondering if someone could order me some hot wings," another person told an operator.

RELATED: Atlanta woman calls 911 to order chicken wings

Both calls, Atlanta Police say, show a glaring problem of the misuse of 911.

"People have been told for decades to just call 911, and that is not the answer," said Desiree Arnold, the Executive Director of Atlanta E911.

Arnold says her team takes about 3,700 calls a day with many of them not true emergencies. She would like to see fewer calls that waste her team’s time.

"Things that people are doing that they should not be doing is calling 911 or are looking for 911 to handle situations that police and fire and medical personnel cannot actually handle," she said.

Atlanta’s E911 center handled 1.3 million calls last year. It sounds like a lot, but, a little less than 4% were deemed serious emergencies.

APD says 911 calls went up 14% last year.

Despite the extra calls, the average wait to talk to someone is improving and is about 14 seconds, 82% of the time. That is slightly below industry standards.

Arnold says those numbers can improve even more if they can cut down on the unnecessary 911 calls. She recommends people use 311 for non-emergencies.

"We're just asking citizens when they pick up the phone that 911 is not necessarily a resource bank," she said. "We're here to handle emergency situations."

When should you call or text 911? Arnold says it should be reserved for life-threatening situations. 

They’ve created a campaign to help people decide what to do called "Make the Right Call."