For the first time in a year, Macon-Bibb shelter may have to put down adoptable dogs

Macon-Bibb animal shelter manager makes plea for adoption

For the first time in a year the Macon-Bibb County animal shelter may have to euthanize adoptable dogs, due to a recent influx of strays that filled the shelter to capacity.
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For the first time in a year the Macon-Bibb County animal shelter may have to euthanize adoptable dogs, due to a recent influx of strays that filled the shelter to capacity.

For all of the animals Tracey Belew has seen euthanized in her six years working in Macon-Bibb’s animal shelter, she still isn’t hardened to it.

At the shelter Wednesday, she became emotional as she talked about the possibility that for the first time in a year, adoptable dogs will have to be euthanized due to overcrowding.

“It’s really hard whenever you take care of an animal every day for two weeks, three weeks, three months, and then you have to walk them to that room. It’s the worst thing,” said Belew, the shelter manager. “Nobody here wants to do it.”

At one time the shelter was euthanizing 10 or more dogs weekly, she said, but since the move into a new building more people have been adopting. Also, nonprofit animal rescues in the area have been helping by taking dogs when the shelter is full. Eleven dogs were set to be put down on Tuesday but rescue groups took them.

A recent influx of stray dogs has the shelter overcrowded, and unless some are adopted soon, a few dogs in the adoption area will have to be put down to make room for more coming in. The shelter has a stray side and an adoption side, each of which hold 50 dogs.

The stray side is for those surrendered by owners or picked up and are waiting for an owner to reclaim, or they may be tied up with court cases. If they aren’t claimed, or the court cases are resolved, the dogs are tested to determine if they are safe around other animals and people. If they are, and have no major health issues, they go to the adoption side. The shelter will keep them there for as long as possible until space becomes an issue. They have kept dogs as long as three months.

Belew is pleading for anyone thinking of getting a dog to consider adopting from a shelter. She said shelter animals are good pets, and she has adopted two dogs there herself.

“They are so grateful when they come from a shelter because they’ve been here and they don’t understand why and they’ve been let down,” she said. “When you adopt them and you give them a family and a home, all these things that they’ve never had, they are just the best dogs.”

She wasn’t sure when dogs might have to be euthanized, but she said it could be as early as Monday. She expects about four will have to be put down.

The shelter also has plenty of cats up for adoption. She said there are currently 75 kittens there, along with some adult cats. Cats may also have to be euthanized for lack of space at some point, but dogs are the more urgent problem right now, she said.

While rescue groups have been helping by taking animals from the shelter, Belew said those are all full now as well.

Belew said she isn’t sure why there is an influx of strays of late, other than the ongoing problem of people failing to spay or neuter their animals. Macon-Bibb has a law requiring it, but Belew said many people don’t comply.

The adoption fee is $100 for dogs and $75 for cats, which includes spay or neutering and vaccinations. Adoption hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. The shelter is at 4214 Fulton Mill Road. For more information, call 478-621-6774.