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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

‘We can’t thank you enough’: Pets at DeKalb County animal shelter

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Tuesday was the deadline for a local shelter to avoid euthanizing animals because of overcrowding.

The DeKalb County Animal Shelter sent an urgent plea for people to adopt and foster animals.

Channel 2′s Bryan Mims visited the animal shelter where he met many people who came to the shelter to adopt an animal.

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Officials told Channel 2 Action News the shelter has capacity for 450 dogs, but last week, it had nearly 600.

But it’s clear that the community heard the call to help.

Michael Cassidy spent some quality time with his newly adopted dog named Luke.

“The process here is great — it’s 23 dollars to adopt him and everything,” Cassidy said.

Luke had been at the shelter for months.

“He was in here since may 22nd of last year, and I thought to myself — I just saw his photo and said I’ve got to have him, so he’s good,” Cassidy told Channel 2 Action News.


Doctor Andrew Empel is a veterinarian who owns the nearby Brookhaven Animal Hospital.

“So we got wind that the shelter was full, and there’s inherent problems when the shelter is full,” Dr. Empel said. “They can only hold so many pets, and then they have to start making some tough choices. They take in a younger pet, they might have to euthanize an older pet.”

Shelters across the country have reported a steep drop in adoptions.

In DeKalb County, strays picked up by animal control come in — and stay.

After its urgent plea, the shelter announced on Facebook that more than 50 animals were given homes Friday.

Doctor Empel is offering free vaccines and exams for pets adopted from the DeKalb shelter. Those dogs also get a free, year-long membership to Fetch dog parks.

Founder Stephen Ochs describes them as a “dog-friendly social club.”

“We’re in a space where we can actually help. And I really wanted to incentivize people not only to save a life, but find a new best friend,” Ochs said.

The animal shelter released the following statement on their Facebook page Tuesday evening:

Look at these smiles! Atlanta, we cannot believe it! In just 7 days, 345 dogs from our shelter have found new homes and foster families. After a year of slow adoptions, packed kennels, and running out of all options, you answered our call in the 11th hour. We cannot thank you enough for saving the lives of each and every one of these dogs.

Last week, we had 593 dogs in the shelter. Today, there are 312. Our pups and our staff are celebrating this moment with you. We’re hopeful that in the weeks and months ahead, we can continue this lifesaving momentum and prevent the shelter from being stretched beyond its capacity to a point where we can’t support those that need us most.

Our organization began its journey with the simple mission of ending the unnecessary euthanasia of shelter pets. We now know, through your response and compassion, that when we come to you to help the animals most at risk, you will be there. That’s the only way we can save lives together. Thank you, Atlanta, for giving us all this happy ending.

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