Shelter launches new animal rescue effort

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett's animal shelter has begun a new program aimed at helping the job of dog and cat rescue groups easier.

The inaugural "Yappy Hour" was held Monday, offering 300 rescue groups an organized, formal opportunity to peruse the shelter's animals and choose which cats and dogs they would like to adopt, Gwinnett County police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said. The shelter falls under the purview of the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Unit, which is operated by the police.

While only two rescue groups attended this week's initial event, 16 of the 40 animals available for rescue were taken, Smith said.

"We are hopeful that this new program will lead to more animals finding their way to good homes," Smith said.

In the future, "Yappy Hour" will actually be over the course of five hours each Monday. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the shelter will be opened to rescues licensed in the state of Georgia.

Only one representative per rescue is allowed, but an additional person may attend to pull the animals, Smith said. Organizations are asked to bring a copy of their rescue license.

The shelter is located at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville.

For more information, call 770-339-3200 or visit gwinnettanimalcontrol.com.

The Gwinnett animal shelter has been in a state of flux and controversy in recent months. An internal police investigation alleged a "culture of bigotry" and led to the retirement of shelter manager Lt. Mary Lou Respess and the departure of two other employees.

An animal task force assembled by the Board of Commissioners alleged that the shelter has been too quick to euthanize. Residents at that task force's meetings have called for the shelter to be removed from the control of the police department.