The harsh economy hasn’t stopped people in the Macon area from adopting pets.
Adoptions at Macon Animal Control are on the rise.
Shelter records show 220 pets were adopted in 2009 as compared with 155 in 2008. The number of euthanizations dropped to 4,278 in 2009 from 4,979 in 2008.
Director Jim Johnson said the shelter has taken in about the same number of animals during the past couple of years.
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Johnson said he attributes the rise in adoptions to a number of factors.
He said the shelter has been pleased with the work of A.C., its mascot. A.C., short for Animal Control, was rescued from a house on Ormond Terrace in February.
With the help of nonprofit Central Georgia Cares, the affectionate pit bull-American bulldog mix has gained local fame with his Facebook page advertising pets at the shelter up for adoption. As of Christmas Eve, he had more than 1,820 Facebook friends.
“A.C. has transformed the community’s perception of animal control and the value of animals in general,” said Patti Jones, president of Central Georgia Cares.
A.C. also makes local appearances at events, is advertised on area billboards and is the subject of a sold-out fundraising calendar.
Johnson said the amount of volunteering at the shelter also has increased.
Central Georgia Cares was organized in early 2009 and, thanks to the nonprofit group’s work, about 80 volunteers donate their time to help the shelter, Jones said.
Johnson said an animal playground behind the shelter, purchased using Central Georgia Cares donations, also has helped increase adoptions.
Prospective pet owners can see adoptable dogs playing in the area that’s equipped with small plastic swimming pools and a barrel, he said.
“That gives (the dogs) a chance to have recess,” Jones said. “The more social and comfortable they are, the more adoptable they are.”
Watching the dogs at play can help a person see how they interact with other animals and judge their temperament, Johnson said.
“Plus, people can get in there and play with them,” he said.
Jones said Central Georgia Cares is hoping to add park benches and some type of shade to the play area in the future.
Johnson said the shelter’s adoption statistics do not include the pets taken from the shelter by animal-rescue groups. Rescue groups took about 230 dogs in 2009.
Some rescue groups report the number of adoptions for 2008 and 2009 are about the same. Adoptions have remained steady for Save-A-Pet, said Janet Smith, the rescue group’s head kennel technician.
The same has been true for Georgia Animal Rescue and Defence Inc said Nikki Lyster, a volunteer who transports animals from Middle Georgia shelters for adoption.
Adoptions are down at All About Animals, said Lisa Stinson, a volunteer.
All three organizations have seen an increase in the number of pet owners surrendering their animals. They attribute the change to people not being able to afford veterinarian bills and food.
Lyster said she’s especially seeing an increase in the number of small dogs being given up because owners can’t afford grooming bills.
With the increased number of animals being surrendered, All About Animals’ and Save-A-Pet’s no-kill shelters are full.
“As fast as they’re going out, they’re coming in,” Smith said.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.