In early August, the Brookhaven City Council announced that Brookhaven residents would be able to adopt pets through LifeLine Animal Project at no cost. Now, LifeLine is waiting for word to spread. 

As of Sept. 9, LifeLine has had three sponsored adoptions – two cats and one dog – through its Brookhaven partnership, according to Heather Friedman, chief marketing officer for the nonprofit that manages DeKalb and Fulton County Animal Services. LifeLine is hoping as more residents hear about the partnership, that number will rise. 

“This isn’t a shelter capacity problem, this is a community problem,” Friedman said. “If everyone just brings all the animals to the shelter, that’s not going to solve it.”

Shelters have been at a breaking point since the beginning of the year, said Friedman. Some might think pandemic backlash is to blame, but Friedman said toward the beginning of the pandemic, around 60% of LifeLine’s shelter populations were in foster homes. 

“That was the first time we ever had empty kennels and our teams were crying and celebrating,” she recalled. “We couldn’t believe it.”

But the outlook quickly changed. Friedman said 2022 has been one of the most difficult years she can remember the shelters facing. Adoptions have decreased by roughly 28% since January, and more animals are staying in shelters for longer. 

“[The shelters] have sustained the same number of animals since January,” Friedman said. “Every month, we’ve been struggling with too many animals and running out of room to house them.” 

So when the city of Brookhaven reached out with an idea for a partnership, LifeLine jumped at the chance. 

“They heard and they saw how full the shelters are, and they wanted to do something as part of their Sustainable Brookhaven initiative,” she said. “I think right now it’s just about getting the word out to all Brookhaven residents so that they can take advantage of this wonderful offer.”

Friedman said since the Brookhaven partnership was announced, LifeLine has had more inquiries from other municipalities about how they too can help. 

“I really do think Brookhaven has inspired other cities,” she said. 

Friedman said LifeLine wants to continue to work with local governments to help them promote adoptions, as well as letting residents know what to do when they find a lost pet. For example, LifeLine’s Take 48 initiative encourages anyone who finds a lost pet to look for their owners for 48 hours before taking them to a shelter. Most dogs are found less than a mile away from their home, and taking them to a shelter can actually decrease the likelihood they’ll be reunited with their families. 

“We’re hoping that if we can do more reunions in the community and people can help in this way, it will make sure that there is room in the shelters for the animals that are injured and in critical conditions that need to be there,” Friedman said.

LIfeLine will be hosting a Healthy Pets DeKalb event on Oct. 29 at Wade Walker Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will provide free vaccinations, free microchipping, and free spay/neuter vouchers

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers.