AC Pup: Rescues working with shelters give animals hope

April 18, 2014 

Happy Easter to you! I hope you have a wonderful weekend spent with loved ones giving thanks for one of the holiest times of the year.

Just a reminder: Please do not buy live baby chicks, ducks or bunnies as Easter gifts. Get stuffed animals instead.

Also please don’t leave Easter baskets in places where pets can reach them.

Remember, chocolate is poisonous to pets and the plastic grass in baskets can wreak havoc on a pet’s digestive system. Kitties especially like to play with the plastic grass so please make a special effort to protect them this weekend.

Now, let’s talk about animal rescue groups and how they’re designed to interact with municipal animal control shelters. I know it’s confusing, especially if you’re new to the animal control field, but it’s such a successful relationship in progressive areas across the country and could be here.

In a nutshell, municipal shelters are shelters run by the local government. They’re responsible for making sure the public is safe from animals that might pose a threat, or to pick up lost or stray animals roaming the streets. They respond to hurt or abused animals. And, sadly, they accept pets that families no longer want.

So protecting the public is the first and foremost job of any animal control department. But then, after animal control has collected all those animals, what do they do with them?

That leads to the next role of animal control -- sheltering animals until a disposition can be made. Animal control is expected to provide excellent care for the animals in their custody. Usually there are so many animals coming in that there is not time to find families.

The obsolete model for animal control was that animals would be kept for a certain number of days and then euthanized without much effort made to adopt them into new homes. But that model is way outdated. As the value of pets to humans became more apparent, that model changed into one of animal control facilities in progressive cities working in tandem with nonprofit rescue groups to save the adoptable pets.

In fact, my nonprofit group, Central Georgia CARES, consults with a very large city that collects many more animals than Macon but euthanized just 8 percent because they implemented this design of partnering with rescue groups years ago. That’s possible to do in our town as well.

Rescue groups work at their own expense to pull as many pets as possible out of municipal shelters. They assume the financial and emotional responsibility of the pet’s care until a home is found.

They have the difficult job of recruiting foster families to help house the pets, spending every weekend taking the pets to adoption events as well as taking pets to other states for adoption. It’s a huge and thankless job to say the least.

The potential to meet the mission of animal control while saving adoptable pets is tremendous. Macon is fortunate to have excellent animal groups willing to step forward to help if the opportunity became available.

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