November 29, 2006
Richmond County is ranked worst in the state for the number of cats and dogs it's forced to euthanize.
By the end of this year, the total will likely reach 12,000.
That's a lot more than last year's total...and the problem is clawing away at the county's resources.
Animal control is understaffed with a limited budget. Yet they still have to take in thousands of animals.
The truth is, they're making up for thousands of irresponsible pet owners.
Getting animals off the street is often just the first step.
Animal control is left with no choice but to end the lives of unwanted animals.
It's what they describe as a pet population crisis.
"I mean, it's outrageous," animal caretaker Megan Griffin told News 12.
"It's horrible," said Animal Control Director Randy Teasley.
Director Randy Teasley showed us this wing they all call death row, where sick, abandoned animals wait in cages for lethal injections.
By the end of the year, nearly 12,000 cats and dogs will have been euthanized.
That's an average of one animal an hour, or 32 a day.
And to put that into perspective, that's 3,000 more animals than even the James Brown Arena could seat.
"So that says to me we're basically horrible pet owners here in Richmond County," Teasley said.
After four years with Animal Control, Teasley is fed up.
"I could imagine if anyone's been hungry, then magnify that by a hundred, or, you know, get hit by a car," Griffin said, describing the state of the animals.
And ask any one of the ten staffers who administer injections. It doesn't get any easier...especially knowing it can be avoided.
"It's just more convenient, rather than to spay and neuter their animal, just to dump the animal and their puppies and kittens here," Teasley said.
Teasley also says adopting out is competitive, with more than ten rescue groups in Augusta providing that exact same service.
It's why he's pleading with pet owners.
"If people were to obey the laws we have on the books now, the local and state laws, we would probably have half the problems that we have," he said.
The numbers are hard to believe.
Richmond County's population is three to four times less than these other counties, but we are among those leading the state in euthanasia.
Euthanasia by County
RICHMOND COUNTY - Population 195,000
9,455 Animals Euthanized
COBB COUNTY - Population 608,000
6,900 Animals Euthanized
DEKALB COUNTY - Population 666,000
9,000 Animals Euthanized
FULTON COUNTY - Population 816,000
11,000 Animals Euthanized
Animal Control does go into schools to education children about proper pet care...but they're often forced to take adults to court. In fact, they have a 95 percent conviction rate.
So how much of a difference would it have made if more people spayed and neutered their animals?
We used the Animal Rescue League's formula and figured out that if only 800 cats and 750 dogs had been fixed last year, 12,000 unwanted animals would not have ended up euthanized at Animal Control.
And the Animal Rescue League also says that if left alone without spaying and neutering, 2 dogs can produce 4,372 dogs in 7 years, and 2 cats can produce 420,000 cats in 7 years.