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shelter dogs in their kennels

State of the Shelters

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Our goal with this page is to share the current shelter needs with our community in an ongoing way. We hope to update this page seasonally or more frequently as needed.

June 2022

You are the next chapter in animal welfare.

Animal shelters have never been, and will never be, the ideal solution for the animals. They have always been a flawed answer to a bigger community challenge of how to best help lost, stray and unwanted pets. 

Across the nation, all communities are facing the aftershocks of the pandemic. For animal shelters, those challenges include overpopulated and understaffed facilities, higher intake and fewer adopters, and a substantial decrease in rescue transfer support. In Atlanta, we’ve had to restrict intake at varying levels due to the severe overcapacity status at both county shelters. 

But over the last few years, and through the recent challenges, we’ve begun to see how a critical shift, and a different path forward, can actually save the lives of the animals in our community without having animals languish in shelters.

Over 60% of the animals in a shelter are stray/lost pets. Imagine if the shelters didn’t exist to collect all the lost and stray pets of a community. What if the community itself was able to help those pets find and reunite with their families? 

63% of animals are found just a mile from their home (26% are just a block away). If neighbors could reunite pets with their families, instead of bringing them to the shelter, our shelters would always have space to help those with nowhere to go.

What if the community could help struggling neighbors rehome their pets instead of turning them over to a shelter? What if more resources were spent on keeping pets and people together instead of housing pets in a crowded shelter? If we, as a community, could shift the focus to support each other in creative and practical ways, the shelters wouldn’t be overcrowded with lost pets missing their families, or abandoned pets looking for new homes. There will always be a need for shelters to help animals in emergency situations and victims of animal cruelty, but the real safety net for pets is a caring community – neighbors helping neighbors. 

Especially now, when the need continues to exceed available sheltering resources, we believe we must find more community-centric solutions by working together with pet-lovers and good samaritans to get more pets home where they belong. 

LifeLine does not believe killing healthy and treatable pets to make more space in a shelter is ever the right answer. Population management through euthanasia has never worked. Reliance on euthanasia constrains the development of lifesaving solutions, and the results are always tragic.

When faced with external pressure to euthanize healthy and treatable animals to create more shelter space last month, we turned to our animal-loving community and in one week found foster and adoptive homes for 300+ pets. Atlanta, you are the ideal solution. With your help, we can weave together a new safety net for the animals in need. Whether you are a veteran rescuer or new to animal welfare, help us shift the response when we find lost and stray pets, so that more pets can be returned to their homes.

  • If you hear of situations where people need help with a found pet, help them find options, contact friends to find a foster home and help canvas the neighborhood to reunite families. Share this page.
  • If you read about someone needing to rehome a pet, share these resources and ask your neighbors and friends if anyone can help. The pet owner, rather than the shelter, will be able to find the best match for a loved pet. 
  • If someone is missing a pet, check the lost pet pages of our website to see if the pet ended up at the shelter.
  • If you can’t adopt, foster. If you can’t foster, donate. If you can’t donate, volunteer. If you can’t volunteer, become an ambassador and share information and resources.

Please continue to support our county shelters. Know that the staff is making the best decisions for every individual animal and human who comes to our doors with the resources that are available. 

Please extend the benefit of the doubt to learn more about decisions that are being made. The people who dedicate our lives to help animals in the shelter are not perfect, but we are doing their very best in every situation, for every individual pet, and we are working with very limited resources and the most challenging of circumstances. 

Right now, we are at a pivotal moment to change the course of animal welfare and lifesaving in our city. Animals deserve to be in homes and people deserve the love of a pet. Will you join us in committing to turn to each other to find ways to help the animals in your community? Are you in?  We are.

ADOPT

Your next dog is waiting for you at any LifeLine shelter. All adoptions include your new pet’s spay/neuter, vaccinations, microchip, and more. Medium to large dogs are in the greatest need of homes.

FOSTER

It is impossible to replicate the calm environment and one-on-one attention a pet will receive in a home. Even if you can just foster for two weeks, any amount of time helps reduce their stress.

DONATE

If you can’t foster or adopt right now, please donate to help us continue to support the large volume of pets in our care.


May 2022
Availability of
kennel space
Good amount Dangerously full

Metro Atlanta County Animal Shelters are Out of Space!

The county shelters have reached peak capacity and no longer have kennel space to house dogs. Because of the sheer volume, we have had to set up temporary crates to house new arrivals but this is not a sustainable or acceptable solution. 

This year we have seen a decline in adoptions by 14% and a 37% decline in the number of animals leaving with rescue partners (compared to 2019 pre-pandemic levels). We also saw a decline in the number of lost pets finding their families again. Not only are there more animals currently in the shelters, but they are staying longer which impacts their physical and mental wellbeing. 

We URGENTLY need help to place our medium to large dogs into homes so that the shelters do not have to face difficult life or death decisions. We currently need to find 250 homes for dogs living at the DeKalb shelter. The Fulton County animal shelter is facing a similar situation and needs to find 150 homes this week. 

Here’s what we are experiencing currently across metro Atlanta.

DeKalb County Animal Services

Today, there are 560 dogs in our DeKalb facility*. In May 2019, prior to the pandemic the shelter held 440 dogs. Fewer animals are leaving the shelter, and animals are staying longer looking for homes. They’re waiting an average of 80 days at DeKalb County Animal Services.

Due to this critical status, Dekalb County and LifeLine Animal Project, in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Agriculture, are enacting emergency only intake protocols. This means the DeKalb shelter is only able to accept animals from emergency situations or in critical need (injured animals, animals involved in bite cases or cruelty situations). DeKalb County Animal Enforcement will also enforce these emergency protocols and will only respond to high priority calls.

*As of May 25, 2022, with the help of our community, the number of dogs housed at DeKalb County Animal Services has decreased to 433. We are making slow, but steady, progress towards reducing the number of pets housed at the shelter to a more comfortable threshold of 320. However, the situation remains critical and your continued help is needed to find homes for the pets in our care.

Fulton County Animal Services

There are currently 360  dogs in our Fulton facility**, which was built to house only 80 dogs. Dogs are waiting an average 40 days to be placed in a home, which is longer than previous years and is very stressful for the animals.

**As of May 25, 2022, thanks to our community’s help in response to an urgent plea for fosters and adopters, the number of dogs housed at Fulton County Animal Services has dipped below 300. Additionally, a generous volunteer has pledged to sponsor 100 dog adoptions this May at Fulton County. We always want to provide humane housing for the animals in our care and at the levels we are experiencing, that is extremely challenging. Our community’s continued help at this critical time is needed to find homes for the pets in our care.

Community Animal Center

Our Community Animal Center takes in pets from our county shelters to help alleviate space constraints. Right now, the center is full and can only take in more dogs when dogs currently in our care are adopted or head to foster homes. 

Last week, 128 cats arrived from our DeKalb and Fulton shelters. If you are looking for a cat, there are many available at the LifeLine Community Animal Center. There are also over 100 dogs available for adoption at this location.

Let's save lives together.

Please share this blog with your community and network to help more pets find the homes they deserve today.

Ways to Help

ADOPT

Your next dog is waiting for you at any LifeLine shelter. All adoption fees are $20 this May and include your new pet’s spay/neuter, vaccinations, microchip, and more. Additionally, we are hosting an adoption event May 20-22, where all adoption fees are waived. Medium to large dogs are in the greatest need of homes.

FOSTER

It is impossible to replicate the calm environment and one-on-one attention a pet will receive in a home. Even if you can just foster for two weeks, any amount of time helps reduce their stress.

DONATE

If you can’t foster or adopt right now, please donate to help us continue to support the large volume of pets in our care.


March 2022
Availability of
kennel space
Good amount Dangerously full

Critical Needs This Week: Adopters and Fosters

This February, we saw the highest intake levels on record for the month since LifeLine took over shelter management in 2013. Both of our county shelters are in the red zone for space availability! 

As we continue to face a growing space crisis, we turn our attention to the impact of crowding and the shelter environment on the health of our pets. It is a common misconception that pets may fare better in a shelter than in a home where the pet parent has to leave daily for work or doesn’t have a yard. There is no place like a home when it comes to animals.

Even with the incredible support of our staff and volunteers, it is impossible to replicate the calm and one-on-one attention a pet will receive in a home. Shelters, particularly at the capacity level we currently face, can be loud and overwhelming for many pets. Though they are safe and fed, the close proximity to so many other pets can lead to a spread in medical conditions. Ultimately, we see a deterioration of our pets the longer they spend in the shelter, along with added strain for our veterinary teams. 

Our goal is to see all of our pets find their way to a warm and loving home. We need help giving our shelter pets a break, including taking them out for a day or a weekend, while they await the arrival of their new family. We immediately see an improvement in our pet’s health and happiness when they are in a home. Plus, you can provide key insights on the dog or cat’s personality (which tends to shine beyond the shelter walls) to share with potential adopters!

We are facing a particular need for fosters for our pets that have medical needs, are part of an ongoing court case, and dogs that are larger in size. To find out more and help give our pets a break, check out our Foster page.

DeKalb County Animal Services

There are currently 471 dogs at DeKalb County Animal Services, 253 MORE than the ideal number of dogs that should be housed in our shelter here and putting us in the RED ZONE

The need for special care fosters is imperative.

Certain pets, such as those that have just given birth, are undergoing medical treatment or are part of a court case, deserve a quiet space and may need a little extra care. This can include receiving regular doses of medicine, restricted or regulated exercise regimes or extra space to care for their puppies. It is important that they have a home where they can relax, heal and rest stress-free. 

Fulton County Animal Services

The Fulton County Animal Services shelter is in the RED ZONE! There are 265 dogs in the shelter, an alarming 115 dogs over the ideal number of 150. This means some runs have up to five dogs sharing a space. As a result, the shelter is seeing an uptick in medical issues, particularly contagious ailments like upper respiratory infections.

Community Animal Center

In February 2022, the LifeLine Community Animal Center brought in 222 pets to help create space at our two county shelters. 94 dogs and 84 cats are waiting for a place to call home, with many more patiently waiting in foster homes.

Our animals are showing tremendous resilience, but we need urgent help from our community to provide these precious pets with homes! Our mission remains, as always, to save the lives of all healthy and treatable animals. We appreciate the support of our community!

Help us save lives together!

Share this blog with your community, and help get more pets into homes today!

Ways to Help

ADOPT

Adopt a pet from LifeLine today! When you adopt a pet from LifeLine, your pet is already spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped (a $200-value!). Your adoption fee helps fund our lifesaving mission to end the euthanasia of healthy and treatable dogs and cats in Atlanta.

FOSTER

Open your home to foster a pet. Even just two weeks in a home can make an incredible difference!

DONATE

Support our lifesaving mission by giving a gift to help Atlanta’s animals. Every dollar you donate is immediately put to use!

January 2022
Availability of
kennel space
Good amount Dangerously full
Availability of
kennel space
Good amount Dangerously full

We are kicking off the new year with an unfamiliar sight for this time of the year: shelters that are still full from this summer. Shelter space is unfortunately, yet typically, limited during the summer months, but this is the first time we have experienced such a continued strain on our shelter capacity and team.

The number of animals coming in our doors has increased by 12% over last year while the number of dogs adopted has decreased. People are also struggling to care for their pets and have been facing evictions and other challenges. This means more pets have been surrendered. Over the last two years, we have seen a 39% decline in the number of animals our rescue partners have been able to help pull to safety, largely due to factors resulting from the COVID pandemic. All of these challenges would be difficult alone but, like so many others, we are also facing severe labor shortages. We currently have 34 open positions across three locations, which means we are missing 13% of our workforce.

Between the staffing challenge and the number of staff who have been out sick due to the latest wave of the COVID-19 virus, we are struggling. Animal care is always our top priority. Our understaffed teams and volunteers are working doubly hard to care for all the animals in need, covering extra shifts and taking on additional responsibilities. In these times, we must depend even more so on our community’s support. By adopting, donating, volunteering, helping lost animals back home and finding new homes for those alone in the shelter, our community offers real and sustained hope for the animals in our care.

We are continuing to take in animals for emergency situations and for those who do not have any other options. Our Animal Service Officers and community support teams continue to provide resources, including access to veterinary care and pet supplies, pet lost and found assistance and self-rehoming options for animals in non-emergency situations. We always work with individuals facing financial hardship who need help for their pets. We often reduce or waive reclaim and surrender fees in the hopes of helping people and finding the best outcomes for the animals.

DeKalb County Animal Services

The ideal number of dogs that should be housed at DeKalb County Animal Services is 218. This allows us to house one dog per kennel with access to both sides of the kennel. We are currently in the red zone with 480 dogs in the building.

shelter dogs in their kennels
a shelter dog in a crate

Fulton County Animal Services

With Fulton County Animal Services being a smaller, older building, there is space to optimally house only 150 dogs. As of last week, there were 221 dogs in the shelter. This forces us to house multiple dogs in most of the kennels. Not only does this make cleaning the shelter a logistical challenge, but it means the environment is less than ideal for our animals. Our goal is to safely house a large population while mitigating risk of disease and shelter stress on the animals. If we had fewer dogs in the building, we could provide larger, single kennels for 26 of our larger breed dogs, who need individual housing, and who are currently residing in smaller cages.

Community Animal Center

In December 2021, the LifeLine Community Animal Center transferred in 170 pets from Fulton and DeKalb to help make space at the our two county shelters. We currently have 95 dogs and 102 cats looking for homes, and even more are waiting to find families while they live in foster homes.

kittens in a carrier coming into the shelter

We believe space limitations alone are an unacceptable reason to euthanize healthy and treatable animals. LifeLine has been able to achieve “no-kill,”  saving 90% or more of all the animals who enter our shelters, but we are only able to maintain this lifesaving achievement with the community’s support and advocacy. We know our community has the ability to provide the support needed to save precious lives.  Their lives depend on it.

Make a difference today!

Share this blog post with your community, and help get more pets into homes today.

ADOPT

All senior pets (5 years and older) have their adoption fees waived for the month of January. They're spayed/neutered, microchipped and vaccinated!

FOSTER

Open your home to foster a pet. Even just two weeks in a home can make an incredible difference!

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