(Photo by Chris Savas)

By Clare S. Richie

Intowners concerned about cats and dogs in Atlanta animal shelters have a reason to be optimistic. Best Friends Animal Society, the national organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters, is here. To promote the no-kill movement in the southeast, Atlanta Pet Rescue and Adoption (APRA) has joined Best Friends Animal Society and is now Best Friends – Atlanta.

“We’re thrilled. It’s a good fit for both,” said Best Friends – Atlanta communications director Rachel Pomberg. “APRA was a (Best Friends) network partner for many years. In 16 years APRA saved 19,000 animals. That work will continue and now Best Friends has a regional center to increase work in the southeast.”

Both share the same philosophy, but Best Friends brings to the rebranded pet adoption center, located at 4874 South Atlanta Road, the resources of a national organization that works collaboratively to reduce the number of animals entering shelters and increase the number who find homes. Since its founding in 1984, Best Friends has helped reduce the number of animals killed in American shelters from 17 million per year to an estimated 4 million.

Best Friends is no stranger to the city. It has been collaborating in the region for more than a decade with 23 network partners in greater Atlanta. In February, it launched a community cat program with Cobb County Animal Control that has sustained a save rate of 90 percent up from 50-60 percent for the same period in 2015.

Best Friends – Atlanta center is poised to play a critical role in the national organization’s bold goal.

“Our ultimate mission is to the end killing of dogs and cats in U.S. shelters by 2025,” Judah Battista, a second-generation co-founder and local city programs director, explained. “The best way to reach the southeast is to be here – what better place than Atlanta?”

Best Friends – Atlanta will prioritize the adoption of at-risk animals from shelters in Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett counties while developing a local coalition.

Once these four counties have at least a 90 percent save rate, Best Friends-Atlanta will expand to other counties until the no-kill movement has spread throughout Georgia and the Southeast.

During the month of December, Best Friends – Atlanta’s adoption fee is just $25 for a spayed/neutered, vaccinated and micro-chipped cat or dog. For more information, visit bestfriendsATL.org.

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.