Gwinnett shelter euthanizations at lowest total in years

LAWRENCEVILLE — The Gwinnett County shelter euthanized less than 2,500 animals in 2013, about one-third as many as it did five years ago.

The shelter, run by the police department’s animal welfare and enforcement services, saved more animals that it euthanized for the first time ever in 2012. It continued that trend and widened the gap last year when 4,428 animals were saved — a tally that includes adoptions, rescues and pets reclaimed by owners — compared to 2,467 euthanized.

In 2012, 4,543 animals were saved and 3,781 were killed.

All of it’s a far cry from 2008 and 2009, when shelter euthanizations reached high-water marks of 7,434 and 7,850, respectively.

“This continued positive change can be attributed to several factors,” a Gwinnett County police press release said, “including the successful volunteer program, a continuing partnership with Homeless Pet Clubs, an improved rescue group outreach program, and an increased number of special adoption events both at the shelter and in the community.”

The most tangible change has been the addition of Sgt. Chip Moore, who was named the shelter’s interim leader in 2012 before taking over on a permanent basis last year. That came after Lt. Mary Lou Respess, the shelter’s director since 2007, resigned following an internal investigation into a “culture of bigotry” and an overall atmosphere described as “very negative.”

Volunteers and rescue groups have praised Moore and the shelter’s atmosphere under his leadership.

Moore wasn’t available for comment Friday.

“While these numbers are encouraging,” the news release said in his stead, “we still have a long way to go to meet our ultimate goal of having every adoptable pet that enters the shelter placed in a home. This goal depends upon the help and cooperation of Gwinnett County citizens.”

For more information on the shelter, to volunteer or to adopt a pet, visit gwinnettanimalcontrol.com.