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Make New Friends at the Animal Shelter

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Charlotte J. Nash Chairman  Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
Charlotte J. Nash,#Chairman
Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners

Gwinnett residents who are furry and homeless are finding new hope and new homes thanks to a dedicated team of professionals and volunteers at the Gwinnett County animal shelter. Some members of this team are featured elsewhere in the People To Know issue of Gwinnett Magazine.

When it comes to people to know in our county government, I wish everyone would stop by the shelter at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville to meet these folks in person.

Former Gwinnett Police Sergeant turned Shelter Manager Chip Moore has taken home three dogs and two cats himself. Before that, he worked robberies, homicides, gangs and narcotics.

When he arrived at the shelter, morale was low and the euthanasia rate was high. Now it”s a cleaner, happier place that finds homes for more animals than it kills. The shelter hosts adoption events throughout the county and works closely with community groups like the Society of Humane Friends and various breed-specific rescue groups. They help find new loving homes for animals that desperately need them.

The shelter now offers a program to place barn cats and “Black Friday” specials on adoptions of mostly black dogs and cats. They even have special rates for seniors. Adoption fees include spaying or neutering, a microchip and the first round of shots.

School, church and scout groups along with local businesses are now starting Homeless Pet Clubs. They sponsor a shelter animal for free and work to find that dog or cat a home through their own social media networks and personal contacts while the shelter agrees not to euthanize the animal.

Last spring, Gwinnett animal control officer Delana Funderburk wanted to help animals in tornado-ravaged Moore, Oklahoma. So the shelter stayed open over Memorial Day weekend to collect pet food donations, hoping to fill a small trailer. People came from all over the state with 16 tons of supplies filling two 18-wheelers.

That example says a lot – not only about the county shelter but also about the people who live here. I firmly believe that Gwinnett County can surpass whatever goals we set for ourselves.

Many of the volunteers now helping out at the shelter are part of the Volunteer Gwinnett program. Individuals and groups can sign up online for one-time or ongoing volunteer opportunities. We set what we thought was a bold goal of a million volunteer hours by 2015, but we”re almost there already!

The county has changed so much since I was child growing up on a typical Gwinnett County farm. There are a lot more people now and a lot more people per acre, which means there are a lot fewer farm animals and a whole lot more four-legged domestic companions. It”s good that we now have so many potential homes for them.

We can solve this problem as long as concerned residents are willing to step up and do something about it.

In April, the Board of Commissioners formally recognized the folks who are doing so much good at the animal shelter and thanked them for finding ways to do more despite shrinking staff and budgets. I”d love for you to meet them.#Kennel hours at the shelter are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m., on Sunday.

You”ll find information and pictures online at www.gwinnettcounty.com. But I hope you”ll go see for yourself.#You”ll find wonderful people… and adorable pets.

Charlotte J. Nash
Chairman
Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners