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Shelter in need
Animal adoption center in danger of closing

SUWANEE - Vanetia Brooks and her brother-in-law were looking for a dog to adopt at the Georgia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Suwanee adoption center Thursday.

The Lawrenceville residents perused the various dogs in cages and seemed to settle on a sweet brown and black female terrier mix the shelter employees and volunteers called Bam. Chuks Obi, the brother-in-law, said he would change her name to Peggy, as the dog lounged against his leg and enjoyed the attention he showed her.

Before Brooks and Obi left, though, they had decided to adopt a puppy known at the shelter as Toffee, a playful and fuzzy retriever-lab mix. Bam, like the estimated 30 other dogs and 60 cats, was left still waiting for a forever home.

But finding a forever home - a home in which these animals will be loved, cared for and protected for the rest of their lives - isn't the only hurdle these animals may face: the adoption center could be forced to close its doors.

"It would be a matter of finding another location to get it going again as soon as we were financially stable again," said Rita Edwards, the adoption center's facility manager and assistant director.

The Suwanee adoption center has struggled the past few months as donations have been down and more people are giving up their pets.

"(On Wednesday), we actually had four different people from the same exact neighborhood trying to surrender their pets," Edwards said. The center only accepts animals surrendered by their owners when space is available, which isn't the case right now.

"We're finding that more and more people are having such a hard time, and they have the family pet and the family pet is usually the first thing to go," Edwards said.

Like donations, pet adoptions are also down.

"I think we were hoping that with the holidays coming, things would pick up," Edwards said, "but it's been quite the opposite."

Cameron, a friendly shepherd mix, and Fancy, a small female sheltie mix found in a Dumpster, as well as orange and white tabbies and solid black cats that lounge around in their cages, are all available for adoption to good homes. If the center closes, these animals will be in dire and immediate need of places to stay. Fortunately, they won't be turned over to the county animal control or to other shelters that have to euthanize unwanted pets.

"Their lives would never be in danger, because that's our commitment to them," Edwards said. "We would get the animals into foster (homes) as quickly as possible."

But Edwards hopes the adoption center will see what she called a Christmas miracle and can remain open.

"The money has to come from somewhere and our normal fundraising efforts and grant awards just haven't been enough this year," Edwards said. "Foundations are giving less right now and many individuals are not able to give at all, so unfortunately these animals pay the ultimate price."

Edwards said donations don't necessarily have to come in the form of money. The center is in need of supplies such as paper towels and bath towels, kitty litter, laundry detergent and fabric softener, mops and bleach.

"Any kind of donation is really helpful to us," Edwards said, "from a dollar or whatever it is anyone can do.

"It's really sad to see that such a wonderful organization that has been able to save so many lives while also helping so many people and their pets is going to have to come to an end if we don't have a real Christmas miracle."

SideBar: If you give

Monetary donations to the SPCA can be made online through PayPal by visiting www.georgiaspca.org as well as by sending donations to the Suwanee location at Georgia SPCA, 1175 U.S. Highway 23, Suite 109, Suwanee, GA 30024. The center is also in need of the following items:

· Paper towels

· Kitty litter

· Towels

· Laundry detergent

· Fabric softener

· Mops

· Bleach

· Scrubs for employees and volunteers to wear