Forsyth’s pet adoptions defy economic trend

Shelter animals find a home in Forsyth County — not so in North Fulton

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — While many people have had to cut back in the past several years due to the economy, it seems many in Forsyth are also investing in an animal companion.

Pet adoptions at Humane Society of Forsyth County have been rising since 2010, and this year they are at an all-time high, according to shelter manager Jennifer Howard.

“Our adoption numbers were, for instance in 2010, 405 dogs and 236 cats adopted,” Howard said. “In 2011 we had 565 dogs adopted and 422 cats. This year our numbers are up even more than they were last year.”

Howard said she can’t say for sure if this change is related to the economy or to the changes made in the shelter’s management in the last two years.

“It’s a bunch of different things at once,” she said. “In just the last two years we have a different president, new shelter manager, new staff, more staff, so we do have different ways of doing things also.”

While this particular shelter has had success, not all shelters have had the same experience over the past few years.

At Alpharetta-based Furkids, which holds adoption events at the Petco stores in Roswell and Alpharetta, there has been a large increase in admitted animals over the years.

“We’ve had a lot more intakes, a lot more animal surrenders, people who can’t afford their homes,” said Lauren Miller, a Furkids employee. “A lot more strays are showing up that people have left behind when they’ve moved.”

Furkids Director Samantha Shelton said the decline in adoptions, along with an increase in owner surrenders began around 2009.

“That was the first year we started experiencing this, and it has since increased,” Shelton said. “The adoptions are now picking up, but we were doing close to 1,000 in 2008, our adoption number was in the 900s, and the next year it came down to around 600. We experienced anywhere from a 20 percent to a 30 percent decrease.”

The organization has been around for 10 years, and their policy states they will take an animal back for its whole lifetime if the owner can no longer afford to keep it. This year they have already seen 30 returns.

“The economy continues to affect people and their pets, but I am excited to tell you I see that adoption numbers are going up,” Shelton said. “I really feel that this year is going to be an excellent year for us with adoptions and our effort to market our animals.”

Opportunities to adopt in Forsyth County will continue to grow when a $2 million county-run animal shelter is completed off County Way north of Browns Bridge Road. The animal shelter was approved as part of the November one-percent special option local sales tax referendum. On July 10, Forsyth County Commissioners approved architectural services be provided by RKS Green Consulting Group/Shelter Planners and to include that the space will also provide for the animal control officers.

At the Forsyth Humane Society shelter, Howard said that while adoption numbers are up, their admission numbers are up, too. She said the need for adopters continues to be great.

“Every day we get 10 to 15 phone calls, either: ‘I’m moving,’ ‘I’m pregnant,’ ‘I don’t have the money anymore,’ ‘I lost the house,’” Howard said. “Those are still major reasons people are giving up their animals.”