DeKalb Commissioner urges county to reaffirm no-kill animal shelter commitmentThe DeKalb County Animal Shelter. Photo provided to Decaturish
DeKalb County, GA — As DeKalb County considers ending its no-kill shelter policy to free up shelter space, a county commissioner is pushing back.
Commissioner Ted Terry has introduced a resolution for the county to reaffirm its commitment to running a no-kill animal shelter. The DeKalb County Commission passed a no-kill resolution in November 2017 affirming support of a no-kill policy at the shelter.
“This step accentuates DeKalb County’s intention to ensure that animal welfare aligns with both modern best practices and the heartfelt wishes of its residents,” a press release from Commissioner Terry’s office says.
Terry will formally introduce the resolution at the Oct. 24 county commission meeting.
It’s been a tough time for animals at the shelter. The DeKalb County Animal Services Advisory Committee received a bleak report about the status of the county’s animal shelter at their meeting on Sept. 21. Animal intakes have increased year over year since 2020, while adoptions have dropped off. An investigation by the Atlanta Journal Constitution revealed that DeKalb’s shelter has been inspected more often than neighboring shelters due to unsanitary conditions.
That has the county reconsidering its “no kill” policy at the shelter.
PETA sent a letter to DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond thanking him “for your compassion for animals and for considering rescinding dangerous and inhumane ‘no-kill’ policies.”
Terry said the county commission didn’t learn about the county CEO’s intention to rescind this policy until they saw it in a media report.
LifeLine says it’s doing everything it can to adopt dogs, but has begun the process of increased euthanizations.
LifeLine founder and CEO Rebecca Guinn published an open letter to the community stating, “The overcrowding in our county shelters has reached a pivotal breaking point.”
Guinn said the county must reduce its shelter population to 450 dogs or fewer within the next 60 days. As of Oct. 20, the shelter housed 615 dogs. In order to reduce numbers, 21 dogs have to leave the shelter every day through adoptions, foster, rescue transfers, or euthanasia.
“In our commitment and desperation to save lives and support families facing economic hardships by taking in the pets they can no longer keep, we have stretched the shelters’ capacity and resources to unsustainable limits,” Guinn said. “We share your heartbreak and are also distraught, and agree that the current conditions in our shelters are no longer humane or sustainable.”
As the county moves to reduce its shelter population, two animal advocacy groups are publicly sparring over the best way to deal with the problem.
The No Kill Advocacy Center sent a letter to commissioners saying PETA has an ulterior motive for wanting to end the county’s no-kill policy.
“While PETA’s opposition to No Kill still surprises some, it shouldn’t,” No Kill Advocacy Center Executive Director Nathan J. Winograd told commissioners. “PETA historically kills roughly 90% of the animals it takes in, despite over $80 million in annual revenues. Why? PETA officials believe that sharing one’s home subjects animals to bondage and oppression: ‘Let us allow the dog to disappear from our brick and concrete jungles — from our firesides, from the leather nooses and metal chains by which we enslave it.’ As PETA believes people are incapable of caring for animals and that those animals likewise cannot live on the street, animals are damned either way, and thus killing them is a ‘gift.’”
That prompted a response from PETA.
Daphna Nachminovitch, Senior Vice President with PETA’s Cruelty Investigations Department, said, “The ‘no-kill’ group cited in your article consists of one person who sits at a keyboard and villainizes community open-admission animal shelters. It attacks shelters that shoulder all the responsibility and must make the heartbreaking but necessary decision to euthanize, so as to alleviate suffering and accommodate the endless stream of animals who would otherwise be left on the streets to keep on reproducing. This ‘no-kill’ group does not shelter a single animal itself. The person who operates it is in a world of denial over the very real epidemic of suffering to which ‘no-kill’ policies have and continue to subject animals.”
Here is the full response from PETA to statements from the No Kill Advocacy Center:
The “no-kill” group cited in your article consists of one person who sits at a keyboard and villainizes community open-admission animal shelters. It attacks shelters that shoulder all the responsibility and must make the heartbreaking but necessary decision to euthanize, so as to alleviate suffering and accommodate the endless stream of animals who would otherwise be left on the streets to keep on reproducing. This “no-kill” group does not shelter a single animal itself. The person who operates it is in a world of denial over the very real epidemic of suffering to which “no-kill” policies have and continue to subject animals.
This group lures people to support its extreme philosophy—as no one, after all, ever wants to euthanize an animal simply for being homeless. But across the country, the “no-kill” experiment has failed, resulting in extreme suffering for animals and disastrous consequences for communities. At Georgia’s Fulton County Animal Services shelter—which is operated by the same “no-kill” group that operates the DeKalb County Animal Services shelter—eyewitness accounts, video footage, and photos revealed animals confined to feces-caked cages in severely crowded conditions. Some cages were so small that animals could barely stand, stretch, or turn around, and some animals had no access to water. Like many facilities with “no-kill” policies, it also routinely turns away lost and homeless animals as well as those whom residents need to surrender. These rejected animals don’t magically disappear; many are cruelly killed or dumped on the streets where their lives end violently via traffic or starvation.
In Las Vegas, where the publicly funded shelter has “no-kill” policies, three dogs were recently abandoned in the shelter’s parking lot after it refused to accept them. One was run over and fatally injured. In Louisiana, a publicly funded facility with “no-kill” policies refused to accept a dog who later died after being abandoned in a crate behind a levee on a hot day. These fates are far worse than a painless, quiet end in the arms of a caring person.
“No-kill” policies betray the whole community. After a publicly funded “no-kill” animal shelter in Florida twice refused to accept a pack of starving, neglected dogs from a resident—claiming that the facility was full—the dogs fatally mauled a postal carrier. In Dallas, after a woman was mauled to death by a pack of roaming dogs, DallasNews.com opined that the city’s director of animal services “focused on the shelter’s live release rate—that is, the number of dogs [who] make it out alive—to the exclusion of common sense,” by leaving animals on the streets.
As the only private open-admission shelter in our area of Virginia, PETA receives calls daily from residents who were turned away or referred to us by veterinary clinics and other shelters—including animals whose aggression, old age, illnesses, and other issues make them difficult or impossible to adopt. For example, a resident recently called us to help with an aggressive pit bull who had bitten a young boy in the face and had been turned away by two other shelters. While many “no-kill” shelters refuse admission to animals like these in order to keep their statistics looking appealing, PETA never does. We provide a peaceful, trauma-free exit for animals who are suffering or unplaceable, and work to find wonderful homes for adoptable ones.
Pretending that animal overpopulation and homelessness do not exist is delusional and fails animals and humans. As Springfield, Pennsylvania, Police Chief Joseph Daly put it, “[I]t’s like me saying I’m not going to arrest anybody and Springfield is going to become a no-crime township. It’s just not going to work. If the animals are dying all around your building and you say, ‘They’re not dying in here, so that’s OK’ …. That doesn’t work.”
PETA urges everyone to be a part of the only real solution to this crisis, by having their animal companions spayed or neutered and helping others do the same—and by adopting homeless animals instead buying animals from pet stores or breeders. Visit PETA.org to learn more.
Senior Vice President, Cruelty Investigations Department
Writer Sara Amis contributed to this story.
Want Decaturish delivered to your inbox every day? Sign up for our free newsletter by clicking here.
If you appreciate our work on this story, please become a paying supporter. For as little as $6 a month, you can help us keep you in the loop about your community.