By J.D. Moor

Ginny Millner

The numbers are huge: 300,000 unwanted dogs and cats are put to death in Georgia each year; 80,000 of them are in metro Atlanta.

Ginny Millner wants to reduce those numbers sharply.

In the past, Millner, wife of former Republican gubernatorial and senate candidate Guy Millner, has tried saving dogs. She rescued and adopted 100 animals a year for several years, she said.

Now she is taking a different approach. She’s spearheading Fix Georgia Pets, an effort to raise at least $3 million to spay and neuter 60,000 animals over the next two years.

“I used to think adoption was the solution, but it’s not enough,” the Buckhead resident said. “Georgia euthanizes more animals than any other state and that’s why my heart goes out to them.”

Millner’s campaign, which started in March, already has raised about $30,000.

But the longtime animal rights advocate brims with dogged enthusiasm about reaching her goals. “I’m not going to fail because I have enough friends who love animals and I’m going to raise all the money,” Millner said.

Millner says the funds Fix Georgia Pets raises will provide grants to spay/neuter facilities and veterinarians. She targets the corridor that runs from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport up to Smyrna as being most in need.

She’d like to raise funds from foundations, pet retailers, pet food and pharmaceutical companies and private donors; lobbying for tougher anti-cruelty to animal laws; and educating people – mainly children – about animal neglect.

Millner calls the overpopulation of homeless pets an epidemic. “One unsprayed female cat can lead to 1,600 more cats in just one year,” she said.

That number can multiply to an extended family of 420,000 over a lifetime, according to experts. Many will become abandoned, injured and ultimately destroyed.

Dr. Monica Daniel, a member of Millner‘s network of veterinarians, said people often don’t realize the number of animals being put to death.

“It’s an out-of-sight, out-of-mind problem I know first-hand. For three years, my previous job was to euthanize hundreds of animals each week,” she said. “I had nightmares and had to quit.”

Millner said that if the life and death aspect of this challenge does not resonate with some people, maybe the dollars and cents issue will. “It costs Georgia taxpayers $100 million a year to euthanize these animals,” she said. “It costs far less to spay or neuter them.”

The Atlanta Humane Society agrees. They have performed 1,534 spay and neuter procedures, at $20 each, during the first quarter of 2012. Fix Georgia Pets’ funds will allow them to increase the number of spay/neuter operations, said William Shaheen, president of the society.

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