by: Mike Petchenik Updated:
SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. - The outgoing director of Fulton County Animal Services told Channel 2 Action News he has no hard feelings about his impending departure from the troubled animal shelter.
On Wednesday, Fulton County commissioners voted to award a contract to Lifeline Animal Project of Avondale Estates to run the program. Lifeline will take over March 1.
“I think they’ll do a great job,” said David York, director of Barking Hound Village Foundation, the nonprofit that has run animal services since 2008. “It’s a very challenging commitment.”
Critics accused York’s nonprofit of euthanizing too many animals and a county audit raised questions about his own spending practices, but York told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik he’s leaving on good terms.
“We’ve worked well with the county and others and there are critics, there will always be critics, but it’s a very difficult situation to be in,” said York.
York said since 2008, the shelter has seen a 30 percent increase in animals being brought into it.
“When the intake is going up, it’s hard to reduce that euthanasia rate,” he said.
According to Fulton County, the shelter took in 10,327 animalsin 2012. Of those, 57% were euthanized, the rest adopted, transferred to rescue organizations or returned to owners.
Lifeline’s director, Rebecca Guinn, told Petchenik her goal is to make Fulton County a “no-kill” community.
“Lifeline has a 10-year history of working with animals and communities that have been underserved and we will continue that tradition,” she said. “There will be a heavy focus on prevention, on customer service, on compliance and compassion.”
Both Guinn and York agree the county needs to invest in a new animal shelter, but Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves told Petchenik there’s no money set aside currently to build a new shelter.
“We don’t have the capital to build a new facility right now, but there’s certainly opportunity for a public-private partnership,” he said.
Animal advocate Alison Hector, who spoke to the commission Wednesday ahead of the vote, told Petchenik she’s hopeful about the shelter’s future under Lifeline’s control.
“It’s a huge day, a huge stride for metro Atlanta,” she said. “I’m very happy.”