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Coweta County Animal Control, Rescue, and “No-Kill” Shelters

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I have not been in rescue for long. I always thought I could not handle the death, the pain, and sorrow of being in place that euthanized animals weekly. Animal control was a dirty word. The only experience I had previously with animal control was the adoption of my two dogs. Then came a point in my life were I felt something was missing. A greater purpose, I suppose. I needed something bigger than myself. To be honest, I was getting sick of myself.

I am shy by nature and was painfully shy a few years ago. So trust me when I tell you it was no easy feat working myself up enough to even send out some emails to different groups. I only got one response and that was from Shelter Rescue/ Please Rescue Me. I have been going to CCAC ever since. Rescue has been hugely fulfilling and colored in many, many shades of gray.

My time at Coweta County Animal Control has been a huge learning experience for me. Not only in terms of animals and the state of animal welfare/rescue but also as a person. Going to CCAC is a lot of work but it is the most rewarding. Believe it or not, we have fun too! We laugh and get plenty of doggie kisses and kitty purrs. I remember when we went to Caroll Co. Animal Control, it felt cold. I had not realize how warm CCAC felt.

Going in, I had many assumptions. Many of which turned out wrong. I assumed CCAC would be a cold, dark, and scary place. I assumed the people who worked there did not care about the animals. I assumed that the people involved in rescue were all kind. I assumed that all rescue people had the animal’s best interest at heart. I assumed I wouldn’t be able to make a difference (we all can). I can tell you I didn’t expect for the people who worked there to ever learn my name. I didn’t expect for them to be so nice to me. They are not monsters but it does take time to earn their trust.

Most people in rescue (excuse the blanket statement) want a “no-kill” shelter. Great. Me too. I also want my student loan debt to magically disappear. Most “no-kill” shelter pick which animals they take in, the highly adoptable ones. They have a limit on the number of animals they take. Where does that leave the excess, the undesirables? They either go to a “kill” shelter or they stay out on the street/in the wild. I’ll tell you right now that I would rather have my dogs picked up by CCAC than for them to roam the streets. I think this passage from the SPCA Singapore explained it well:

The concept of a `no kill’ animal shelter is one that we have all dreamed of and place high on the list of our goals. The `no kill’ concept is plainly and simply a marketing concept for those shelters advocating this policy often to the detriment of animals and the other shelters struggling to do the right thing.

A `no kill’ shelter has a very selective `selection process’ of what animals it will accept through its doors and will only take those animals it knows that it can re-home. Thousands of other animals are turned away and end up at council pounds or other animal welfare shelters that will take sick, injured, aggressive and old, unsocialized dogs and cats – this is done knowing full well that the only fate for a large percentage of these will be euthanasia.

The `no kill’ shelters have made it extremely difficult for other animal welfare agencies to fundraise effectively and retain a strong staff and volunteer base. We all know that the worst job in any shelter is euthanasia and the public would rather donate to an organisation that appears to be rehoming all animals in need. In truth, these organisations are helping fewer animals and placing more strain, financially, emotionally and physically on other shelters.

In the animal welfare industry euthanasia is a horrible necessity as there will always be animals that cannot be rehomed, by reason of their health status or temperament. `No kill’ shelters, are shrugging off this responsibility, fooling the public and accepting the credit for – sending an animal home with a new owner. The focus needs to shift away from our euthanasia rate and the emphasis put on being able to rehome more animals either by way of education, establishing the suitability of dog/owner relationship, basic obedience training and health care. By concentrating resources and energies on these outcomes it will automatically reduce the number of animals needing to be euthanized – `A kill less policy.’

I have a moral question for you. Say you run a “no-kill” shelter and have in your custody a dog you cannot get adopted. No rescue will take the dog for whatever reason. Two years pass, five years, and now, at ten years, that dog has lived his life inside a kennel. The dog has now gone insane and you are afraid to touch him. Should you have euthanized that dog ten years ago?  What about five years ago? How long inside a prison cell is enough?

I have seen cats, after just a month, go stir-crazy. It’s not a pretty picture. Dogs get horribly depressed. Tell me who, in the general public, will want to take a chance on a dog that won’t move or wag his tail or a cat acting like the devil has possession over him? It’s hard enough to getting the happy-go-lucky types adopted. How is it fair and just to let those animals get that way?

“No-Kill” shelters don’t solve the problem. It’s a feel good band-aid for people. I am not saying that any “No-Kill” shelter is bad. When done right they can ease a burden off the other shelters. They are certainly not the whole solution. No one has a problem with no more death but the “No-Kill” movement isn’t complete.

No body is standing on the rooftop screaming “KILL THEM ALL” and laughing like a maniac!

Adopting a dog from a “kill” shelter like CCAC does not mean you are supporting them. I have seen people write these comments about not wanting to support a “kill” shelter over a “no-kill” one. CCAC is run by the county, not by public donations. Adopting from a “kill” shelter means saving a life. Adopting from a “no-kill” shelter also means saving a life. As long as you do not BUY a dog or cat.

I have been accused of defending CCAC over the animals. I have been accused of not caring and wanting animals to die. It’s hard to reason with emotions running high. No one sane working in shelters, animal controls, rescues, or wherever want animals to die. That indictment is inflammatory, untrue, and takes the attention away from the animals. I cannot speak for every shelter/animal control but I can speak for Coweta. Coweta County is not in the business of euthanizing as many animals as possible. I know the people there and they all want what’s best for the animals. It is animal control and they have to take in all strays and court cases. Did you know that some shelters/ACs will euthanize after so many days, regardless of space? CCAC only euthanize when space has run out, the animal gets really sick, or if the animal is highly aggressive. Two of those are done by “No-Kill” shelters. Most of our animals are rescued. I want to continue to our my community shelter so that they can continue moving in the right direction.

If people want to rant and rave about the suppose “injustices” of CCAC, let them. Don’t try to reason because none will be seen. Spay/neuter your pets, always adopt, and take responsibility for your pets . If everyone would do these things in Coweta, in Georgia,  and in the US, we would surely have a “kill-less” policy by default. In my humble opinion, CCAC already tries to just that.


26 responses »

  1. Nice article, Lindley. Good job!

  2. Pam Reinhard

    Lindley, Thank you for all that you do for the Coweta animals and your blog/pictures. You help showcase them so beautifully.

  3. Well said! thank you for all your work and thank you to the staff at CCAC, its clear they really care about the animals they have.

  4. Yikes! I guess your experience with Coweta County has been a lot different than mine. The few times I’ve been to Coweta the staff has been rude to me, I’ve seen sick cats stacked in carriers, and the list goes on and on. Also, I’m not quite sure you understand the concept of no kill. It means that aggressive or sick hence “unadoptable” animals should be killed. I take issue with your moral question, because you gave no reason why the animal couldn’t be rescued or adopted…unless that dog was seriously ill or aggressive and then the humane thing to do would be to euthanize it. Also, you are right about cats going stir crazy after a month, but that’s more of a reason to get them out of the shelter and not just euthanize them. The friendliest cat can turn “feral” in a shelter. Anyways, I only rescued from Coweta a handful of times, but found other shelters that I felt needed more of a rescue presence. The main point of no kill is that you are TRYING to save all the animals and that you believe that they deserve a shot at life. I’m glad you have had such a wonderful experience at Coweta, but I personally and I know many other rescue groups that have not.

    • Hi Annie,

      That is one reason I decided to write this is to show another side. I am sorry the staff was rude. I would like to point out that when CCAC comes under attack, it includes the staff. They know what gets said and may be not the nicest at first. That is why I stress the importance of the relationship. They want to know that people/rescues are there to help the animals and help support the people that house them. I know many rescues take any chance they get to tear the shelter down and that solves nor helps anything.
      I am weary of the term “No-Kill”. I believe most people and the shelter ARE trying to save as many as possible. Without rescues, like you, it would be impossible. Most of are animals are rescued and sent to other places like NY, NJ, MO, FL, and so.

      I agree with about the cats. Once a cat is taken out of the cage/condo, they usually go back to being a nice, healthy kitty. The problem comes when a cat sits for three months and you can’t get anyone to take it because it is not on a e-list. Only when that cat is put on the list, does anyone act. How does one know how long an animal will sit? How long until it becomes cruel? Those questions weigh on my mind. There are so many cats everywhere. It is a tough situation. With cats coming in every day, it is difficult, to say the least, to find a place for every one. They can’t live their lives there. As for the sick cats in crates: that is done to try and keep the sickness away from other cats (and a lack of room).

      I like to think of the shelter as equal opportunity. ALL animals get a shot at adoption/rescue. We even work aggressive dogs/feral cats. Every animal is given time. CCAC will even let rescues take aggressive animals.Its more than be said for some.

      I appreciate the never ending work of a rescuer and appreciate you took some Coweta cats. I want as many saved as possible. Sometimes all is not possible at this point in time.

      Thank you,

  5. Please educate yourself about what No Kill shelters, and particularly No Kill communities are all about. No Kill communities, in which no animals in that community are killed as a means of population control, have existed in the US for almost 10 years, ever since the Tompkins County SPCA began saving every healthy and treatable pet that came through its doors:

    Charlottesville, VA, Reno, NV and others have since followed suit.

    At the very least, read the book ‘Redemption’ by Nathan Winograd to gain an accurate perspective on the movement to end killing in shelters.

    • Thanks for the article. It was heart-warming read. Those were beautiful changes. I foresee more changes for CCAC as well and I look forward to them.

      I am aware what “No-Kill” means. I am confused on how it will work long term. I think the focus should be on more spay/neuters, adoptions, and education. It still doesn’t answer my question on where all these animals are suppose to go after the adopters have been saturated with animals.

      • No Kill focuses just as much on spay/neuter, adoptions, education, and pet retention programs as it does on anything else…I think you might learn more if you did some research!

    • Valarie, as someone who lives with the Reno mess your constant misrepresentation is appalling. Reno is not a No Kill City, we do have a shelter that changed policy and decided to go No Kill depriving an entire county of an open admission shelter. We are overcrowded, and do give cat and dogs to anyone walking through the door without any screening. Have had ferals caught in fur traps and dogs cut up alive, thats what you peddle. Death by strangers.
      Sorry lindley, if you lived with it you would get furious too.

    • @Valerie I agree with you that No-Kill Shelters are supposed to uphold a certain standard, go by a certain protocol, and most of it is in the book by Nathan Winograd.

      The fact is, the No-Kill shelters don’t follow their own protocol – some of them can’t due to staffing, financing, space, etc – but the fact is that there is no such thing as “No-Kill.” It’s “try not to kill unnecessarily.”

      You know what non No-Kill shelters do?

      They try not to kill unnecessarily.

    • Reno is no a No Kill community, and frankly we are tired of being thrown in with the loonies. We are a compassionate place with all the problems of any other, we do euthanize animals, and they go to Reno Rendering, I know this is an old thread, but it’s new to me. I am not trying to bash No Kill, I am trying to clarify the status of my city where I live. Not what some out of town person thinks.

  6. I find this post very sad. The attitude is very defeatist and negative. I had not pegged you for that at all.

    First off, No-Kill is not a “MYTH”. It has been proven to work in every model of town, city, county, rural area, urban area, economic status, etc. It has also been around in full function for many years.

    No-Kill is not some lofty idealism that people preach.

    No-Kill is comprised of an equation, and hard hard work, and so much more. Before challenging people to further questions of: “but what about…”, it is truly necessary you inform yourself.

    It’s a good thing our Forefathers and Mothers believed in their hopes and dreams, as I think it is really sad that there are people writing pessimistic uninformed garb about the goal of ending the extermination of our companion animals.

    • Kate,

      Perhaps I should have used another word in the title. I’m not sure why this post would change your opinion of me. I wrote it to show another side, to possibility help others understand CCAC and rescue a little better. I am still dedicated to the animals and helping them any way I can to find rescue/adopters. Nothing has changed other than me voicing a slightly different opinion.

      Yes, “No-Kill” has worked short-term but how can it work long-term with the lack of homes? With limited funding and space, how can all those animals be housed? Another question is about the quality of life. I am certainly not against the goal of ending the euthanasia of homeless animals.

      I did not mean for this post to come off negative or pessimistic. I was trying to be more of a realist. I dream of a time where all animals are cherished and loved as earth’s children, not just cats and dogs. Until that day, I do not see CCAC being able to house and contain every animal that comes through it’s doors until they are rescued and/or adopted. There has to be a limit. Everything has a limit.

      “No-Kill” is an idealism but thats okay. Idealism is a wonderful thing. It can lead to real change. I just don’t know if this approach will work long-term with the minds and hearts of people diseased with a lack of compassion. That is not to say that I think CCAC is perfect, far from it. It has made major strides and will continue.

      It breaks our hearts when we lose them but we cannot dwell. We cannot rage against it. For what good does anger do? It is on to the next cat or dog.

      Thank you,

    • But, we need the answer to ” what about” As far as hope and dreams of our forefathers; read about the Donner party. Failed to do their homework and ended up living off the cadavers of the “forefathers” who died along the trail. homework people do your homework.

  7. I spend a lot of time in our local Animal Control Center, and yes there are “some” nice people working there, but that does not change the fact that 80% of all animals entering do not leave alive. Just because I put a happy smiley face on it does not make it a happy place. It seems to me that the person writing the article has no clue what No Kill is about, but is using the talking points of those stuck in the past making excuses for the killing. Yes its a lot of work getting the animals out alive, but it can be done. All the No Kill communities around us have proven that. We are making a difference, and all the animals alive because of No Kill is all the prove I need to push on. We are on the right side of History!

  8. Valerie, please do tell us how many of Georgia’s public shelters have successfully implemented the NKE? How’s that going in Carroll County?

    Unless we fire up our volunteers, like Lindy, our shelter pets will continue to suffer. Thinking that government will sustain handling all of our problems is like living in a fantasy world.

  9. I only have experience with one No-Kill organization. I was proud to be part of something that promoted a philosophy that no animal should be killed. However because of how the organization was run and incidents that animals were turned away, I disassociated myself with that organization. I now turn my efforts to helping the local municipal shelter.

  10. Lindley,

    I really liked your article; it made me think very deeply about this problem that is taking place all over the country.
    We can all argue over what “no-kill” means, but I think the point of your article was that selective shelters that only take adoptable animals are not the *only* answer (correct me if I’m wrong). I agree, and would like to add something. I have known people who have turned in their animals to no-kill shelters simply because they didn’t want the burden of caring for them anymore. It’s a guilt-free alternative to being a responsible pet owner.
    However, I hope everyone can agree that generally, shelters and rescue organizations have the best interests of the animals in mind. We are all on the same side!



  11. Wow, and thanks ! I concur with all of what you have so carefully written. The whole thing on the web about your shelter was hype. I notice that a couple of Winograds No Kill spokespersons are here trying to drum up business. it’s a business, they have to flame you because they have no sucess to point to and must try to shoot down any detracters. Like Roger, good to see him here, I have been involved in No Kill. it is not pretty up close.
    Any of the folks who rescue with you and are supporting this travesty lack knowledge, show them pity, and give them distance. Continued exposure to no Kill can cause mental impairment.
    No Kill turns away animals, it stacks them to the ceiling and keeps them until they go crazy and then it kills them. it forces ill chosen placements to keep the numbers up and welcomes the hoarders who can least afford to care for the animals.
    The blogs that push No Kill are saying not to talk about animal cruelty anymore (WisconsinWatchdog.wordpress ) they don’t want to admit there are wackos out there who torture animals, they won’t acknowledge hoarders, or the life those tortured animals lead. Every open admission No Kill turned animals away through the help desk, they have a webinar on how to “keep animals out of YOUR shelter. great ne, w blog i found called “is no kill even humane”? Time to take back our Animal Care And Control. Respect our staff and volunteers, No Kill runs it mouth, we run real shelters.

  12. A ‘NoKill” shelter works …….. until space and money runs out.

    ACs were not created to be pet stores – and the majority of the Nk pushers (dog breeders and “other allies”) know that. I’m sure they are also counting on Acs nationwide struggling – as they’ve been doing – and then there’s a NK advocate right there to demand the firing of the AC Director and staff.

    I am leaning towards believing this is not by chance or accident.

    Have you not noticed that the ones who are bashing Hsus/Aspca/Peta are the animal “use” community (breeders, hunters, vivisection, NAIA, Akc, Ckc, Ukc, etc. As well, has anyone not noticed the vile, filthy verbal attacks that are coming from these NK main players? The same kind of verbal attacks they are launching against Hsus/Aspca and Peta.

    It isn’t hard to connect the dots with the “NoKill” pushers.

    Google Rick Berman and his Consumer Center for Freedom – along with Nathan Winograd,
    Patti Strand, Richard Avanzino……… that should get you started.

    My two cents says this is yet another ploy by Naia/Akc/breeders to get their people in at as many ACs as they can – so that they will become the majority. NK offers them a chance to have killed all of the “less than perfect” dogs housed in ACs nationwide – by way of their “temperament test”.

    Then research the “Federation of Akc Dog Clubs and Other Allies” on the Akc website – there’s a list of “Akc legislative reps” for most all the states in the nation. Check those names for your particular state – I betcha a doughnut that you’ll discover that person to be extremely active in alot of your county’s and city’s ordinances and charters – claiming they are “only offering their assistance”, of course.
    The list can be viewed at this link:

  13. Tompkins Co NK shelter may pull their infamous “NK” policy – why? Not enough funds.

    THIS is reality for the NK program. A county animal control is taxpayer funded – that means they do not have unlimited money nor resources to be a NK shelter. NO county AC does which relies on taxpayer funds.

    The only shelters that have the luxury of being a NK is the privately operated rescue shelters – they can “pick and choose” the animals they accept – whereas a county government AC cannot.

    My question to Ms. Valerie Hayes – on your Twitter page, you have countless tweets posted advertising
    Calgary’s Bill Bruce’s “webinars”. A little research into Bruce’s name shows he has been invited, and spoken at, venues sponsored by Patti Strand’s Naia animal USE organization – as well, he is applauded by dog breeders galore.

    So why are *you* advertising his webinars and conferences?

    And why are you always the mouthpiece for Nathan Winograd – when online research shows
    his name with connections to Rick Berman and the Center for Consumer Freedom – who Akc
    has hired Berman to launch smear campaigns against Hsus and Peta.

    The dots just continue to connect, yes they do.


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