LAWRENCEVILLE - Animal adopters may have to wait a few days to get a new pet from Gwinnett's animal control shelter.
That's because veterinarians now spay or neuter dogs and cats before they go home. With a few exceptions, mostly for puppies and kittens, the Society of Humane Friends has made the medical procedure possible before animals are adopted.
"The only way we are going to solve the pet overpopulation problem is by spaying and neutering," the society's Dennis Kronenfeld said. "I think it's very important we set the example."
The cost to adopt a pet has increased from $30 to $75 to cover the cost of the procedures, but Kronenfeld said the price is a bargain, considering spaying and neutering a dog within 30 days of adoption is a state law.
Before the procedures began this month, officials sent letters to people who had adopted animals to try to prove the procedures had taken place, and sometimes people were cited for violating the law.
But Animal Control Manager Sammy Jeanes said people would often skirt the requirement by claiming the pet had died, run away or been given away.
"It's a great idea. It saves us a lot of time, a lot of money," Jeanes said. "We don't have to worry any more."
A couple of years ago, the Society of Humane Friends had begun requiring the spaying and neutering of pit bulls and other dogs likely selected for breeding. Often, Kronenfeld said, the adopter would not return for the animals after the procedure was done, so the cost is now required up front.
"Every year we get puppies and kittens from animals that left the shelter the year before," he said. "There's no good way to enforce it."
In the past three weeks, Kronenfeld said he hasn't seen a dip in adoptions because of the additional cost and burden, but he said the society will cover the veterinary bills if adoptions do not cover it.
Veterinarians are scheduled to do procedures Mondays and Thursdays, and a third day may be added based on demand.
Kronenfeld said the procedures will be even easier once the shelter moves from its current Hi-Hope Road location to a new facility on Winder Highway. There, he said, veterinarians will have a larger, more comfortable operating room and a quarantine area will allow for the dogs and cats to recuperate more comfortably.