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Providing a LifeLine for Pets in Atlanta by Assessing Our Animal Welfare Needs

By S. Mathur

LifeLine Animal Project hopes to make Atlanta a no-kill community in 2016. Since its founding in 2002, its mission has been to end the needless euthanasia of adoptable dogs and cats in the city's shelters. With three shelters, two spay/neuter clinics, adoption programs and outreach to help pets at risk, that goal is in sight. LifeLine's major success came when it took over management of two county animal shelters in 2013.

Karen Hirsch, Public Relations Director says that "Both shelters had a high euthanasia rate when we took over management and both took in 20 to 40 animals daily. Although we still take in the same number of animals, we are ecstatic to share that since November, FCAS has been at a no-kill levels (defined as saving 90 percent or more animals) and DCAS has reached no-kill levels as well just this year."

LifeLine has used a number of strategies to achieve this success, Hirsch explains: "We have been able to achieve no-kill rates through innovative programs that enable us to find good homes quickly. These include monthly adoption specials, offsite adoptions, aggressive social media marketing, owner retention counseling, a robust foster program, monthly transfers to no-kill shelters in the Northeastern cities that don't have pet overpopulation issues and our partnership with hundreds of rescue groups who pull from our shelters."

LifeLine Animal Project is also the largest provider of spay/neuter services in the metro Atlanta area. Outreach and education programs include talks to civic groups, neighborhood associations and elementary school students; participation in community festivals and weekend adoption events.

Hirsch says that while the population of dogs in the metro Atlanta region has remained stable, there is a reduction in the cat population due to the LifeLine Animal Project's Catlanta Program which helps neighborhoods with TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) to manage stray cats safely and humanely.

For anyone who finds a lost or abandoned animal, Hirsch recommends first checking in the neighborhood to find out if anyone has lost a pet. If the animal is friendly and can be handled, you can take it to a nearby vet to find out if it is microchipped. It's best to keep animals out of the overcrowded shelters if at all possible. The LifeLine clinics will provide low-cost spay/neuter and vaccines. If the animal cannot be handled either because it is scared or aggressive, it's best to call to the county animal control, who will bring the animal to a LifeLine shelter.

With long experience of pet adoptions, Hirsch had some advice for potential pet adopters.

"Adopting a pet is a lifelong commitment for the next 12 years or so. They should take into consideration whether they live someplace that allows pets, whether they plan to move somewhere they could not bring their pet, whether anyone in the home is allergic to pets and whether they are planning to have a baby and would then want to give up their pet. But if you are in the market and ready for a life-long friend come visit one of our shelters today. See available pets at www.LifeLineAnimal.org."

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