Karen Hirsch, LifeLine communications director, visits with one of the dogs at the Fulton County facility.
Karen Hirsch, LifeLine communications director, visits with one of the dogs at the Fulton County facility.

By Melissa Weinman

If you ask Rebecca Guinn, metro Atlanta has come a long way since 2002.

Twelve years ago, Guinn called county animal control officials after she noticed a dog that had gotten its paw stuck in a fence. The dog was taken to the county shelter and Guinn learned that it would only have five days before it would be killed if its owner couldn’t be located.

“I became obsessed with the dog. I called the shelter every day,” Guinn said.

On the fifth day, she decided to save the dog that had been caught in the fence. The first day she had visited, the shelter was packed. But by the time she came back, many of the animals had been euthanized.

“That empty shelter — I’ve never forgotten that moment,” Guinn said. “At that time in the Atlanta area, over 100,000 animals were being euthanized a year. I had no idea.”

Guinn knew there had to be a better way and was moved to start LifeLine Animal Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to animal welfare. Guinn now serves as the CEO of the organization.

“We started LifeLine and started looking at why is it like this in the Atlanta area — what can we do to make a difference?” Guinn said. “Today, we run that shelter.”

LifeLine Animal Project now operates the animal shelters in Fulton and DeKalb counties. LifeLine is coming up on its first anniversary of running the shelter in Fulton County, having taken over the management of the facility and county animal control services on March 15, 2013. LifeLine began managing DeKalb’s shelter July 1.

In December, both counties had record low rates of euthanasia: 25.8 percent in Fulton and 13.4 percent in DeKalb, LifeLine says.

“We’ve done a lot to promote adoptions at Fulton County. We’ve tried to raise the profile of the shelter and bring more people to the shelter,” Guinn said.

For more of the story, visit Reporter Newspapers.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.