Animal shelter policy change: ‘No admittance…only Whitfield County personnel beyond this door’

A lot of animal advocates are under the impression that animal shelters are required to open their entire facility to the public in order to show they’re not being secretive in their actions. While this would be ideal, it’s not the law, even in shelters who are government funded.

New policy at Whitfield Animal Shelter in Dalton, Georgia
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

This article is about shelters in general and Whitfield County Animal Shelter in Dalton, Georgia. The shelter is said to have a very high kill rate. It’s also alleged animals come out “injured” who were fine when they went in. The photo above was posted at the shelter recently, causing those who follow the shelter to question their motives.

There may not be any motives at all. Or there may be. Who knows? An animal shelter, in general, is there for public safety reasons. To work with rescues or to offer animals for public adoption is a bonus. Unfortunately, Whitfield DOESN’T adopt to the public.

In the state of Georgia, rescues who work with a shelter are required to have a Georgia license with the Georgia Department of Agriculture and be incorporated with the Georgia Secretary of State. Rescues are inspected and have to keep current records on everything they do. It’s meant to ensure the animals go to a safe place and not a disreputable person operating under the guise of a rescue.

As for having portions blocked off from public access, this too is done in animal shelters across the country. For example, quarantine rooms for contagious illnesses, as well as bite-hold quarantines are areas off limit to all but shelter staff.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture has given the choice of whether rescues or potential adopters are allowed in the back rooms. What’s done in one county may not be done in another, depending on who’s over the shelter.

Unfortunately, word going around is Whitfield is no longer allowing rescues into the back to take photos of the cats and dogs available. I don’t like this. I also don’t like shelters that don’t encourage public adoption. A family can carry the memory for years to the day they visited the local animal shelter and adopted a special pet into the family.

Shelters that ban adoption aren’t helping anyone, including the animals in their care. They’re also making enemies and losing trust within the animal advocacy community.

Since adoption and rescue are an added bonus, and only public safety is required, there may not be anything we can do to change things without attending a lot of Whitfield County Council meetings. Council leaders tend to prefer to do what they’ve always done for as long as they can get away with it and most aren’t open to new ideas. It could take years for Whitfield to decrease the animals being killed while in their care.

How do the readers feel about shelters who operate as Whitfield does? Does anyone have any suggestions on how we can change things? Sound off in the comments.

P.S. Michael has written about the First Amendment and animal shelters which was inspired by this page and a comment by a visitor.


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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

23 thoughts on “Animal shelter policy change: ‘No admittance…only Whitfield County personnel beyond this door’”

  1. Isavemore animalsthanyou sittingonyourbutts

    Problem is animal advocates are getting increasingly aggressive and are quick to spread negativity towards the animal shelters so instead of dealing with the drama stirred up by these self proclaimed advocates they can just shut y’all out. The other issue is budget. If they don’t have a large enough budget to hire enough people to do the cleaning, the adoptions, the ACO part then they will close it down to the public. The purpose of animal control facilities is to pick up strays and enforce City or county ordinances. They do not have to do adoptions, they do not have to do anything but house the animals until time is up. I’m having trouble keeping the shelter I work at open and on Facebook because my superiors and their superiors don’t agree with animal advocates calling us murderers and accusing us of being ignorant rednecks all the time and they don’t want to spend money on it when it could go to increasing the size of our Police force or get street lights up in the not so nice parts of town. Our facility is open by appointment only but I do a lot of rescue coordinating after hours off the clock. I am only one person I can only do so much, and many shelters are minimally staffed because the citizens don’t feel their tax dollars should go to improving Animal Control. What you see on Facebook is only a small portion of the truth of what’s going on but you’re quick to hit that share button and accuse us of barbaric acts. Half of those spreading the negativity are not even from Georgia, have never been here to see how things are in the south compared to the north, but spread their bullshit and encourage others to call and harass the facilities and higher ups to complain about some little thing they see on a Facebook post. Animal advocates are doing more harm than good, you need to change your tactics and open your eyes to the fact that most of these facilities are doing the best they can with what they are given and y’all slandering and spreading negativity from behind your computer screen does no good whatsoever. I have been in animal rescue for over 15 years from St Pete Florida to rural South Georgia. I worked at no kills and limited intake shelters, now I’m doing it from an animal control position and saving more than has ever been saved in my county but I’m called a murderer on a daily basis. I can’t stand to see a message on my books from a self proclaimed animal advocate. Y’all are ass holes who hinder those who are trying to physically do good while you sit on your butts.

    1. Thank you for commenting. Perhaps a better solution is to have a better internal method of dealing with dissenting employees and volunteers. If they had a proper policy regarding their volunteers which allow them to express their grievances and which led to resolution internally there would perhaps be no need this sort of action. And also of course if the animal shelter was run immaculately and to a very high standard there will be no need to shut the doors to the public.

    2. Elisa Black-Taylor

      If a shelter has a 99% kill rate like Whitfield is said to have then please explain to me how they’re doing the best they can do? It would seem the best would be to offer adoptions (although they legally don’t have to do even that).

      As for sitting on my butt, I’ve done roughly 6000 shelter pet articles with quite a few from the Cobb County shelter in Georgia.

      I do agree things can get WAY out of hand on Facebook, but sometimes it’s best to bring things out into the open.

      I hate you’re being called a murderer when you’re in fact helping the animals in your area. The real fault lies in those who don’t spay or neuter and those who never should have gotten a pet in the first place and consider the shelter their personal dumping ground.

      1. They are not doing the best they can do. Not tooting my own horn but before me and other advocates came they were 75% KILL!

        Since Jan of this year they are now 93% LIVE OUTTAKE!

        That is because of advocates! I’ve never been disrespectful. I would go 2-3x a week and I work with more than 20 rescues.

        I’m in the business of saving lives! When I see injured animals YES I post it to save them. And let me say there have been more than a handful of animals that went in fine and came out with severe injuries!

  2. As far as I understand a shelter that its tax funded which means the taxpayers pay for the shelter to operate has to be open to the public taxpayer or it can lead into lawsuits by taxpayers and animal Advocate associations

    1. It’s a crock I would never take an animal home that I couldn’t observe in it’s kennel because I have other pets at home. It’s also a great way to hide substandard care.
      The Albuquerque shelter allows everyone to go see the animals in the kennel I think there was a sign saying to use the hand sanitizer between animals.

      1. Elisa Black-Taylor

        Whitfield isn’t going to let you take an animal home. The last shelter I wrote on that acted in a similar manner had a dead kitten on the floor and stopped allowing photos to be made.

  3. Not an uncommon practice.
    It’s not enough to read about this and complain. Take 2 hours out of your day and visit your county kill shelter.
    Ask for a tour. Should you be escorted through areas, ask where they are holding ferals (you’ll be shocked). Ask about their adoption rates, their euthanasia percentage, and whether they scan EVERY cat for a chip (ferals included), and how many cats are reunited with their owners/caretakers.
    If your guide can’t answer most of your questions, ask to see someone who can or ask to view their records which are legally public documents.
    And, as you are escorted out (kindly or not), remember that they feel protected by your local county officials who don’t really give a d-mn about what they do and are in support of them 100%.
    If you really care and want to make a difference, have your kill shelter placed on agendas for city council and county commissioner meetings and be there prepared to speak out. If you’re not willing to lend a voice, sit down, be quiet, and get out of my way.

  4. I find it confusing that a public shelter does not engage in public adoptions.
    Lets not forget that adoptions and are part of the public education to s/n.

  5. I did not realise that adopting from an animal shelter was a bonus. I thought the purpose of shelters was to rescue animals, look after them and then if possible ensure that they are adopted to a good home.

    In other words the adoption process is part and parcel of the work of an animal shelter. To do otherwise severely limits the effectiveness of the shelter it seems to me. It would also seem that it simply becomes a holding facility for killing the animals because what else can you do with them if you are not adopting them out?

    Also, I do not like anything other than full transparency when there is no reason for secrecy. It is far better to be open and transparent as it generates credibility and helps to maintain high ethical standards.

  6. Excuse me for being dense but what is the purpose of a public shelter that does not adopt to the public ?

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