LAWRENCEVILLE — Over the last two years, the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter has dropped its euthanasia rate from 65 to 29 percent.
But that’s not good enough for officer Delana Funderburk, who works at the humane society off Winder Highway in Lawrenceville.
“The hardest part of this job is having to have animals euthanized,” she said. “I don’t like that part of my job. People think that’s what we’re here for, but that’s the furthest thing from the truth.”
In response, the shelter held its second-annual adoption explosion in July and closed it out with a block party on Saturday. The explosion dropped the rates of adoption to $40, which included all shots, for dogs and puppies, and $30 for cats or kittens.
“We’ve had 409 rescues this month from the shelter,” Funderburk said. “That’s one of the highest we’ve ever had. Last year, we adopted a little over 300 during our adoption explosion.”
For Lawrenceville resident Randolf Leggs, his son Collin (4) convinced him it was time to adopt a dog.
“He’s never had a dog before and he wanted one,” Leggs said.
By the time they finished up, the family took home Ruger, a pit-boxer mix that had been at the shelter since June 17.
“We’re taking him home and he’s going to become a part of our family,” Leggs said. “I can remember having a dog growing up. The best times were just sitting around playing with him. I want my kids to have that same joy. Plus, it can teach them a little responsibility.”
And Ruger was only one of the dogs that had been at the center for more than a month that was adopted on Saturday.
In total, the shelter adopted almost 25 dogs before the close of the event, with more families looking to adopt as well.
“The biggest misconception is that we take the dogs in and euthanize them without a care in the world,” Funderburk said. “We’re keeping dogs here as long as possible to help them get adopted.”
With the help of rescue groups and adoption events across the county, more dogs and cats are getting adopted, which is something that makes the whole staff at the shelter smile.
Once the event is over, that doesn’t mean the workers and volunteers will stop pushing adoptions.
On Aug. 10, they will be hosting an event that will provide low-cost spaying and neutering, while an Oct. 12 adoption fair will take place at a location to be determined.
Asked as to why the shelter (and shelters across the country) continue to receive animals that fill it to capacity, Funderburk didn’t hesitate to point out backyard breeding and bad owners.”
“Backyard breeding has to stop,” she said. “We need to have stricter laws on spaying and neutering. I can’t stress enough to spay or neuter your pets. That’s the key to stopping this.
“Then there are owners who just don’t have a care in the world. They give up their animal thinking that someone will adopt them, when in truth that doesn’t always happen. Just this morning (while the event was going on), someone tossed their dog out of the car. How can some do that?”
Funderburk said she and the rest of the staff will continue to work to get all animals homes.
Some of the ways they’re doing that is by extending their two kittens for $40 deal until all kittens are gone. Senior citizens also can adopt any animal for $30, while all military veterans receive one free adoption per year.
“We just want to get these animals adopted,” Funderburk said. “None of them did anything to deserve being here. They don’t deserve to be locked up in a cage. They deserve to be in a home with an owner that loves them.”
For more information on the Gwinnett Animal Shelter, call 770-339-3200.