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19 dogs at risk because of iWag shelter demolition

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19 dogs at risk because of iWag shelter demolition

Twelve-year-old Jaquelyn Almond-Rubio gets a kiss from an IWag Rescue puppy during the Decatur BBQ, Blues & Bluegrass Festival at Legacy Park on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — With animal shelters across metro Atlanta breaching capacity, iWag is left with 19 dogs in need of a home by the end of this month. The dog rescue and shelter will be demolished this fall for a new mixed-use development in Decatur.

iWag has waived all adoption fees and is offering heavily discounted training packages. To find better matches, they’re hosting adoption days on Saturdays in August from 10 a.m. to noon at 715 E. College Avenue in Decatur.

Two iWag locations operate as of now – Decatur and West Georgia. The West Georgia location is also at capacity, primarily serving as a boarding and training facility.

Executive Director of iWag Kristie Wilder said they’ve had plans since March 2021 to relocate the Decatur shelter but have since hit a few roadblocks – the market, permit delays, and labor costs, to name a few.

Today’s market is also affecting the state of animal welfare, says Wilder, compounding the risk to more dogs than the 19 in need of homes at iWag.

“With Atlanta’s high cost of housing and economy on the verge of a recession, the timing couldn’t be worse. We receive 15-20 calls a day from people wanting to surrender their pets,” she added.

That’s true of shelters around the country, she said.

“I have a friend that runs a Great Dane rescue down in Florida. A very specific breed, so there’s not a lot of them,” she said. “She normally has 20 to 30 dogs in the program. She has 82 right now, and they just keep coming.”

Wilder said the overwhelming reason iWag hears from people who turn over their pet is they’re relocating or moving into places where they can’t have a dog. Nevertheless, “it’s incessant,” at every rescue and shelter that she knows of, even breed-specific ones or locations outside of Georgia.

And while adoptions are down, so is volunteerism and fostering.

Leigh Plott started volunteering with iWag after losing her own dog, admiring the focus on training, community service, and giving dogs a full, healthy life. Now, she works closely with Wilder on marketing and fundraising efforts.

“I was always impressed with the care that iWag gave to carefully matching families with a dog that’s right for them, and dogs with the right families for them,” Plott said. “They would take in dogs that others might not…They took on some of the hardest cases and still took that extra effort to really make sure that they were doing what was not only in the best interest of the animal but best interest of the family as well.”

iWag has been serving metro Atlanta for 26 years now, and there aren’t any plans to stop now. Plott plans to continue supporting Wilder and iWag in this transition, too, offering up her skills in any way that she can.

iWag needs support from more people now. After Wilder’s 13 years in animal welfare, she said this is the worst she’s seen. She’s urging the community to help.

Have any questions? Reach out via email or phone at 678-773-8711 and [email protected]

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