Shelter animals need you, not your petition

Pleas to sign a petition to make Fayette County Animal Shelter a no-kill shelter flood Facebook feeds. It is not citizens’ signatures, but citizens that are most needed.

I envisioned a dog pound as a jail where dogs lived in numbered cages and were fed between the cracks. After visiting and beginning to volunteer at Fayette County Animal Shelter, I discovered how very wrong I was.

These dogs reside in a green-throughout, 30-year-old, very-well-cared-for dormitory. The inhabitants are not incarcerated; they are at doggie camp.

Campers are brought up to date on vaccinations, aptly named (Mable is a young puppy but acts like a little old lady), and wait like royalty for their individual meals to arrive and their quarters to be cleaned.

Fayette County Animal Shelter employees have a loving relationship with each animal under their charge — they dote on them and call them by name. Dogs do not lie; their tails of truth whip rapidly in gratitude and loyalty when they see any staff member.

Are these no-longer strays allowed to take it easy during the dog days of summer? No, siree, their twice-daily walks are coordinated on a bulletin board and emailed as a spreadsheet to each volunteer dog walker. Also on the bulletin board are lists of dogs who participate in paired walking sessions and names of groups who fetch amicably during fenced-area play.

Individually, a four-legged candidate will participate in a career day of sorts and spend time in the administrative office observing the ins and outs of the shelter and greeting the public. Or, a dog will oversee an employee wash and shine the Fayette County Animal Shelter van while enjoying fresh air and learning to take pride in our county’s resources.

Though animals at Fayette County Animal Shelter have it pretty doggone good, the goal is for each to be placed in a forever home. In the six short months I have frequented the facility, I do not see how the shelter employees, Fayette Humane Society, or volunteers could work any harder on adoption initiatives to support a “no kill” mindset:

• The facility recently extended hours designated “for adoptions only” on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-7 and opened on Sundays.

• A group of shelter dogs raised quite an awareness when they debuted at The Avenue’s annual movie night showing “The Secret Life of Pets.”

• ”Friends of Fayette County Animal Shelter” were a highlight of Peachtree City’s 4th of July Parade as a car adorned with adorable posters of adoptable faces caused the large crowd of citizens to coo over the cuteness available at their local shelter.

• A volunteer wore a dog costume one hot afternoon holding a big sign announcing “Adoptions Today” at the shelter’s entrance.

• A volunteer used his expertise and personal equipment to clear land around the shelter, and he maintains the dog-friendly landscape.

• Another “Paws to Read” back to school bash is scheduled for Aug. 5. Children participate in service learning and volunteer to read to our county’s dogs.

• Professional photographers volunteer their service of a glamour shot-style photo shoot of each of the adoptable dogs, and they and the employees dress these pups in tutus, angel wings, spiffy bandannas, and other accessories in order to present these babies in their very best light.

• An accompaniment to the perfect picture is certainly no, “un-neutered adult pit bull male mix” classified advertisement but instead a creative chronicle that depicts each dog’s unique disposition, interests, health report, estimated age, and quirks.

• These profiles are then disseminated to the Fayette Humane Society, Petfinder, and various social media outlets to be over-shared by animal lovers throughout and beyond Fayette County.

• Adoption fees have regularly been sponsored by generous community stakeholders (law firms, chiropractic offices, and even the director himself) who support the mission of FCAS.

Unfortunately, dogs are taken in at Fayette County Animal Shelter every day, sometimes in pairs and even litters, and that number exceeds those taken out. The shelter goes over and beyond to maintain the oft 125 percent capacity.

To sign a petition would be futile. Dogs are not concerned with their fate, but live life to the fullest in the moment.

To visit the welcoming facility and volunteer to walk or brush or just snuggle with a highly adoptable dog would be fruitful … and might even lead to the type of shelter for which all Fayette citizens would proudly petition.

Darby Jones
Senoia, Ga.