Fulton animal shelters swamped by economic downturn

Admissions on the rise

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NORTH FULTON, Ga. — Many people have had to cut back over the past few years due to the economy, and it seems a growing number of people in North Fulton are giving up their pets to save money.

Furkids in Alpharetta, hosts adoption events at the Petco stores in Roswell and Alpharetta. The organization has a dog and a cat shelter that has seen a greater number of animals coming in than going out over the past several years.

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

At the same time (and perhaps for the same reason), Furkids director Samantha Shelton said they have experienced a decrease in adoptions.

“It began around 2009,” Shelton said. “That was the first year we started experiencing this, and it has since increased. The adoptions are now picking up, but we were doing close to 1,000 in 2008.

“The next year our adoption number was still in the 900s, and the next year it came down to around 600. We experienced anywhere from a 20 to 30 percent decrease.”

She said the decrease in adoptions wasn’t related to any negative changes in their operations. They have increased their number of adoption locations, and this year they have started to see the adoption numbers creep up.

“May was the highest number in dog adoptions, so we have had some reason to celebrate,” she said. “With that said, we are seeing returns. We’re seeing people who adopted years ago contacting us saying they’ve lost their job, they’ve lost their home, and that has not eased up.”

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 still excited 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.”

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

“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.”

However there has also been an increase in admitted animals.

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