Gwinnett County officials are applying for a nearly $50,000 grant from the Rachael Ray Foundation to help reduce deaths at the county’s animal welfare shelter.

Gwinnett County Animal Welfare officials are seeking a way to reduce shelter deaths and they are looking to television celebrity Rachael Ray for help.

County commissioners gave staff the OK this past week to apply for a $49,263 grant from the Rachael Ray Foundation. The Rachel Ray/Best Friends Society Grant will be used to support the Gwinnett Animal Welfare Shelter’s Pets For Life program.

“This grant will assist with the shelter’s Pets For Life program to assist with community cat efforts and to provide free vaccinations and spay neuter vouchers to residents in order to be able to maintain their companion pets at home safe, healthy and vaccinated per Gwinnett ordinance,” Gwinnett Community Services Deputy Director Blake Hawkins wrote in a letter to county commissioners.

There will be no local match on the grant if it is awarded to the county. Hawkins told commissioners the grant funding would cover 1,500 rabies and distemper vaccinations as well as 1,500 microchips for the pets.

The community cat effort Hawkins mention in his letter to commissioners is a hybrid return to community cat program the county developed, which is based on national program models known as “Return to Field” and “Trap Neuter Return.”

County officials are looking to reduce intakes at the shelter by 20% by the end of 2021 through the program.

“Upon approval, (Gwinnett Animal Welfare and Enforcement) plans to implement a ‘return to community’ program to stabilize and reduce the existing free-roaming cat populations in Gwinnett County,” county officials wrote in their grant application. “We will work with neighborhoods that have the most issues and those that create the most intakes and complaint calls for our field services.”

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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