COVINGTON — As Newton County begins the planning process for a new Animal Control facility, one animal welfare organization is working with the shelter to get more animals adopted or placed with a rescue organization.

Planned Pethood of Georgia recently announced a $5,000 grant for the Newton Shelter to pay for rabies vaccinations and spaying and neutering for 75 animals, which will make it more likely that the animals will be adopted. The Spay Neuter Transport Program has been active since mid-May, and the county has already seen an increase in adoptions and a reduction in the euthanasia rate.

“During May 2019, 83 percent of the animals that entered our facility were adopted or placed with a rescue group,” said Cynthia Wiemann, Newton County’s Animal Control director. “That is a record high for our shelter. We know offering spay/neuter services to our county will reduce unwanted births and increase the chance of adoption for the animals we care for at our shelter.”

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The Spay Neuter Transport Program works like this: Planned Pethood picks up the animals at the Newton shelter on Wednesday and takes them to its Duluth clinic for the surgery. Afterward, the animals are either brought back to the Newton shelter on Friday or are picked up at Planned Pethood by an area rescue organization. Wiemann said having the animals at Planned Pethood’s location in Gwinnett County makes it easier for rescue organizations to have access to the animals.

According to Planned Pethood, in one month 100 animals from the Newton shelter were either adopted or rescued.

Wiemann said placing animals from the shelter with rescue organizations has also helped to maximize the $5,000 grant from Planned Pethood because the rescues pay for the sterilization of the animals they take in.

“One good part of this is that we’re now putting adult cats and/or kittens at Petsense that are already sterilized and are available for adoption,” said Wiemann. “Since the beginning of June, we have already placed 20 from there. Being able to have them sterilized and put in a place of business has really helped.”

Newton County is the pilot county for Planned Pethood’s Spay Neuter Transport Program, which was launched with financial support from Maddie’s Fund. Planned Pethood aims to broaden the scope of the service to include other rural counties and remote locations across the state in order to further reduce Georgia’s pet overpopulation problem.

“Many of us living in metro Atlanta don’t realize that just 45 minutes outside of the city there are counties that have no access to affordable spay/neuter for their pets and limited rescue resources,” said Elizabeth Burgner, Planned Pethood’s executive director and co-founder. “Unfortunately, the ones who suffer the ultimate price are the animals that enter the county animal control facilities. This grant will create a ripple effect, getting pets out of these shelters alive and stopping the cycle of overpopulation at its source, which is unwanted litters.”

Maddie’s Fund is a family foundation created in 1994 by Workday co-founder Dave Duffield and his wife, Cheryl, who have endowed the foundation with more than $300 million. Since then, the foundation has awarded more than $225.7 million in grants toward increased community lifesaving, shelter management leadership, shelter medicine education, and foster care across the U.S. The Duffields named Maddie’s Fund after their miniature Schnauzer, Maddie.


I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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