Written by: Lizzie Kidney
Located down a two-lane road off North Jefferson Street, a small blue building serves as a home for Milledgeville strays. Forced by overcrowding and limited funding, the Baldwin County animal shelter has two choices: find them a home, or put them to sleep.
“Our biggest issue is that the county does very little to help us out,” said Rebecca Lanier-Weeks, shelter administrator. “They only provide us with the bare minimum.” Weeks said that the county provides the shelter with basic dog and cat food, some cleaning supplies and disinfectant to sterilize the cages. The shelter must rely on donations for other supplies such as newspaper, puppy and kitten food, blankets and vet bills. “I am currently paying for the software that our computer system uses in order to log in the animals that come into the shelter, because the county will not even provide us funding for that,” Weeks said.
The shelter is run mainly by Rebecca, with the help of two officers on the road, but college students also volunteer their time to help out at the shelter as well. “We do get help from the local college students and we try and place animals in fosters as much as possible, but there are more animals needing places to go and less places to actually send them,” said Weeks.
Ori Adar, a current GC student, heard about the issues of overcrowding at the shelter and has taken the initiative to become a volunteer. “Whether it’s walking the dogs, or just giving them some attention, I am glad to be helping out in some way,” Adar said. “I think it is important that more people become aware of the problem and decide to donate, or help out.” Mallory Howard is another current GC student who helps the shelter find rescues and fosters for incoming animals. “The county does little to offer help with vetting and rescue pledges per animal, and with no spay and neuter laws in place the shelter can’t keep up with the number of intakes they receive,” Howard said.
Weeks agrees. “It boils down to the fact that there is a lack of caring and communication between us, and the people downtown. We currently are so overcrowded, because our building only has 17 kennels and there is no funding coming in to help us expand,” said Weeks. “For example, we took in over 100 cats this month, but we only have ten cat kennels in our cat room.” With overcrowding becoming so significant, the shelter has no choice but to put the animals to sleep. “We try not to put an animal down unless they’re sick, or aggressive,” Weeks said.
“But unfortunately, if we become overcrowded, we are forced to start putting owner surrenders down, then pit bulls and then strays that have been here for more than three days.” Weeks knows what it will take to bring awareness to the situation, as well as more funding for expansion. “For us to get what we need here, it will not only take the public, but it will also take animal lovers in positions downtown to help fight for more funding,” Weeks said.