New Best Friends effort set to launch in Atlanta, Georgia

The founders of Best Friends always knew that someday we would see an end to the killing of healthy and treatable pets in shelters. We believed that to be true, even in the mid-80s, when the number of animals killed was around 17-million annually. Best Friends is the only national organization focused solely on ending that killing, so it is with great pleasure that I am able to announce the launch of Best Friends–Atlanta that will include a brick-and-mortar adoption center.

The city of Atlanta carries a tremendous amount of importance for the no-kill movement. It’s not only a large metropolitan city with sprawling suburbs (the 9th largest metro area in the U.S.), but the issues animals face across the metro area are many and varied. The southern United States represents an overall disproportionate share of animals killed in shelters. That’s why we’ve chosen Atlanta for our next regional location, as we know the impact Best Friends can have in that region will greatly reduce the number of animals killed nationwide.

Best Friends has been working in Atlanta for many years, supporting key partners and more recently by hiring staff to develop core life-saving programs. However, just a few months ago we were put in touch with Atlanta Pet Rescue and Adoption (APRA), a group that has saved more than 19,000 lives in the Atlanta area since their inception in 2000. APRA was looking at ways to increase their lifesaving even further through partnerships with other organizations which ultimately led to the joining of APRA with Best Friends.

Starting October 1st, APRA, and their adoption facility on the city’s northwest side will be known as Best Friends–Atlanta. We’re very excited and grateful for APRA’s work, and for what the future holds as our organizations come together to save more lives in Atlanta.

Just as we have in other communities across the country, we will work to build a coalition in Atlanta, made up of key Network Partners and other agencies committed to no-kill. We will use the Best Friends–Atlanta facility initially to focus on harder to adopt animals from city shelters in Cobb, Gwinnett, DeKalb and Fulton counties – the four largest counties in the Atlanta metro area. We will strengthen an already strong relationship with Rebecca Guinn, CEO of Lifeline Animal Project. Rebecca’s leadership has been instrumental in the effort to get Atlanta to no-kill, and she’s already hit record levels of lifesaving in the two counties where her group holds the municipal shelter contracts – Fulton and DeKalb. Maintaining the outstanding save rates in those two shelters and helping Lifeline and other groups expand their capacity across the region will be a focus of Best Friends–Atlanta.

We’ll be holding our first ever Atlanta Strut Your Mutt fundraising dog walk in September. If you’re a resident of the area, this is a great way to help support the efforts of local organizations.

I’ve long believed that we are on the threshold of an historical landmark – a time when animals are no longer killed in shelters simply because they don’t have safe places to call home. The no-kill movement has grown past the tipping point, and it’s only a matter of time before shelter killing is a thing of the past. This next endeavor signals an exciting moment in that history.