Lucky dogs adopted as pet abandonment on the rise

About two dozen dogs rescued by the All About Animals shelter panted and frolicked in pens outside PetSmart at Eisenhower Crossing on Sunday afternoon.

By 4 p.m., eight puppies had found new homes.

A black and white bulldog mix went home with Pat Bailey and her daughter, Katy, of Roberta.

Pat Bailey said her family has had four dogs — three Shih Tzus and a cocker spaniel — but after the cocker spaniel died two weeks ago they decided their next dog would be a rescued dog.

“They are just as loving, if not more so,” she said.

Within minutes of picking up the puppy, it started crawling up on Bailey’s shoulder and nuzzling her neck.

Mary Ellen Lyghtel and her family spent about an hour selecting a puppy to take home after reading an article in The Telegraph about the rising number of homeless pets and lower than normal adoption rates.

“We’ve always had shelter dogs,” she said, adding that her family adopted a rescued Labrador retriever-hound mix last year.

After a second family pet died at Thanksgiving, Lyghtel said the family considered getting another pet.

“We thought maybe another buddy would be good for her,” she said.

Although several pets found a home Sunday, shelters have seen an increase in the number of pets surrendered by owners and fewer people looking to add another furry member to their family.

Heart of Georgia Humane Society, a no-kill rescue organization like All About Animals, also displays dogs for adoption at PetSmart on Saturdays, but has had at least one recent weekend when no dogs were adopted, said board member Judy Stembridge.

With fewer animals being adopted, board member Donna Conaway said volunteers are having to pay more for heart worm prevention and flea medication as they keep dogs for a longer period of time.

“People aren’t adopting as they used to,” Conaway said. “All that gets very expensive.”

All About Animals founder Mary Crawford said her shelter is at capacity, caring for about 200 dogs and 100 cats with many in foster care. She said puppies and smaller dogs tend to be adopted easier than larger, older dogs.

With some dogs not being adopted after two years, Crawford said adoption fees for some of the older dogs are being waived if people are willing to give them a good home.

Although Crawford said she hasn’t seen a dip in adoptions because of the economy, she said she’s seen more dogs being abandoned in parking lots and tied to trees.

In Kristin Lee’s case, she came home to find a puppy in her backyard and a note from a good Samaritan who found the dog after it nearly was struck by a car on Zebulon Road on Tuesday.

After contacting All About Animals and finding out the shelter was full, Lee decided to bring the black-and-tan beagle-hound mix to PetSmart on Sunday in hopes it would be adopted.

Although a family considered taking it home, Lee didn’t find a home for the dog.

Jim Johnson, director of Macon Animal Control, said the shelter is still seeing an outpouring of pets being brought in, but not as many as about a week ago. Within a 10-day span this month, 309 dogs, cats and kittens were brought in and euthanizations climbed to 45 pets a day.

Now, employees are euthanizing about a dozen animals a day. Prior to the summer surge at the shelter, euthanizations did not occur daily, Johnson said.

For the first time in three years, Johnson said the shelter is having to buy pet food. Previously, the shelter received enough donations to feed all the animals.

While some of the donations came from private individuals, much of the donated food came from bags damaged in shipping at the Wal-Mart return center. Since the center closed, the donations stopped coming.

On average, the shelter uses two 40-pound bags of food each day, Johnson said.

Information from The Telegraph’s Archives was included in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.