Indeed, these are the dog days of summer.

The humans running the animal shelters in Fulton and DeKalb counties are waiving all fees for dogs and cats adopted from Aug. 17 to Aug. 26. The free adoptions are necessary due to a summer influx of animals turned over to the shelters.

Summer heat has made an already busy season even worse. There are now 1,300 animals between the two shelters, said Karen Hirsch, spokeswoman for LifeLine Animal Project, a nonprofit that operates the shelters for both counties.

“It’s unusually high,” she said.

There are a couple of reasons she cited for the surge in shelter population. Animals mate when it’s warmer and “a lot of those animals (are) moms and babies that end up with us.” In addition, animals escape more when their owners go on vacation and more outdoor activity means yard gates may be left open.


READ | Heartwarming free pet adoptions stem from stark reality in shelters


Because LifeLine, which took over the shelters in 2013, is a public entity, it can’t turn away people dropping off a dog or cat, Hirsch said.

There’s another, more stark reason: The Fulton shelter wasn’t designed for animals to leave alive, LifeLine CEO Rebecca Guinn previously told the AJC. The year before LifeLine took over, about 40% of the animals that came into the Fulton shelter were adopted. The other 60% were either euthanized or died of other causes.

In May in Fulton, 90% of the animals were adopted or placed with an animal rescue group. That lifesaving rate in DeKalb was 95%.

The Fulton and DeKalb shelters receive about 30 animals a day but can get as many as 60 during the summer, she has previously said. The shelters, especially the Fulton facility, aren’t built for those masses.


READ | Fulton County leaders intend to build a new $25 million animal shelter

READ | We full yet? New census numbers say metro Atlanta is still growing


The Fulton shelter, built in 1978, was not designed to hold felines, so the cats are stacked in a separate trailer. Sometimes there are eights dogs to a kennel.

Fulton commission chairman Robb Pitts described the shelter as looking “like a third- or fourth-world facility” in May when commissioners agreed to spend a quarter-million dollars holding community meetings and searching for a site to build a new shelter. They estimate they’ll spend $25 million on the project.

The upcoming free adoptions include spaying/neutering, microchipping and vaccinations, which LifeLine says is a $300 value.

The normal adoption fee is $85 for a dog and $65 for a cat.


The free adoption events  will be run at LifeLine’s Fulton shelter and two DeKalb locations

DeKalb County Animal Services, 3280 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Chamblee 

Fulton County Animal Services, 860 Marietta Blvd. NW, Atlanta 

LifeLine Cat Adoption Center, 3172 E Ponce de Leon Ave., Scottdale


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