Fulton County animal shelter overcrowded, in 'crisis'

The Fulton County Animal Services shelter on Atlanta's West Side is so crowded, Director Audrey Shoemaker said they are nearly 300 dogs over capacity.  

"We are truly out of room.  We don't know where we're going to put the next dog that comes in.  It's a crisis situation.  It's very dire at the shelter right now," said Shoemaker. 

The shelter was built back in 1978, Shoemaker explained, to accommodate 80 animals. They currently have 376 dogs alone.  

"These animals deserve to be in homes.  They're companion animals," Shoemaker explained.  "Watching the dogs walk by and hope that somebody will pick them--it's truly heartbreaking."  

LifeLine Animal Project contracts with Fulton County and DeKalb County to run their animal shelters.  They said adoptions are currently down 19% from last year.  At the same time, more animals come into the facilities every day.

"We're seeing a lot of surrenders and people who are having to give up their pets, although they don't want to because of housing and because of loss of funds," said Shoemaker.  

To help relieve overcrowding and get the animals into loving homes, LifeLine is offering adoptions for just $20 during the month of August as part of the annual "Clear the Shelters" campaign.  That adoption fee includes vaccinations, spay or neuter and a microchip.  

"We believe that the community needs to know what's happening in the shelters," Shoemaker explained.  "Being fully transparent, I can only hope that people respond because I know how much they care about pets."  

According to LifeLine, they have an immediate need for 300 homes--150 in DeKalb and 150 in Fulton--to help with the overcrowding.  They hope, however, to place 500 animals by the end of the month.  

Those who are not ready to adopt an animal can help by fostering one, volunteering at the shelter or donating money to help with the rising costs of care.  

LifeLife also encourages people to "Take 48" if they find a lost pet.  Instead of immediately turning the animal over to an already overcrowded shelter, they ask people to hold onto the dog or cat for 48 hours while posting on social media or neighborhood forums to try to locate the owner.