Lifeline Animal Project CEO Rebecca Guinn and her canine friend.

Lifeline Animal Project is pleading for help from fosters and adopters due to astronomically high intake numbers at the Fulton County and DeKalb County shelters.

Lifeline’s CEO Rebecca Guinn said she’s never seen capacity so stretched. Over 130 animals are arriving weekly and dogs are at risk of euthanasia.

“We need more help. It’s not something the shelter can solve by itself – any shelter, not just Lifeline,” Guinn said. 

Ten years ago, Guinn was at the helm of the no-kill movement in Atlanta. The largest animal welfare organization in Georgia, LifeLine manages the Fulton and DeKalb animal shelters and provides enforcement services for Fulton County.

Guinn said she’s never seen animal shelters in such an overcrowded state. It’s acute here in Atlanta, she said, but shelters are struggling across the country.

The surge comes because people are being squeezed by the current economy. The harder it is for people to make ends meet, the harder it is to keep pets.  

Guinn recounted a story about a family who came to the shelter last week with a trained, neutered, purebred Golden Retriever. The family had been displaced four times because apartment complexes are not allowing medium-sized dogs. As more people are moving in, there are fewer opportunities for housing pets, she said. 

“People who were having rough times before the pandemic and the economy and inflation are even more so now,” she said, adding that pets are becoming collateral damage. 

Some of Lifeline’s partner relationships dissipated due to the pandemic. There’s not only a shortage of space in shelters – veterinarians are in short supply. Guinn suggested pet owners ask their vets to donate an appointment to shelter animals. 

“We’re always looking for more volunteer veterinarians at their own clinics or one of our shelters,” Guinn said. 

Other ways to help shelters include: 

  • Before taking a found animal to the shelter, Guinn suggested posting on a neighborhood or citywide social media account to look for the pet’s owner. Check the database PetCo Love Lost. Lifeline also has a list of resources available.
  • If the owner cannot be located, serve as a Friendly Finder to foster a pet. “This isn’t a shelter problem, it’s a community problem,” said Guinn.  
  • Volunteer for Dog for the Day or Weekend Warrior to allow a pet to get out of the shelter for a bit. 

“We have a lot of short term and longer term foster programs … to help increase the shelter’s capacity. It’s very meaningful to us. And you know, if you fall in love with your foster and can’t live without them, that’s really good, too,” Guinn said. 

Sept. 15-17 is Best Friends National Adoption weekend.

Logan C. Ritchie writes features and covers Brookhaven for Rough Draft Atlanta.