By Marie Nesmith Dec 4, 2023 | Daily Tribune News

Bartow County Animal Control recently received an award for its no-kill status last year.

“On behalf of Best Friends Animal Society, I want to congratulate Bartow County Animal Control on achieving a 90% save rate for calendar year 2022,” said Best Friends Animal Society CEO Julie Castle in a letter to Bartow County Animal Control Director Reggie Nation. “You’ve joined an elite group of organizations across the country who are leading the way toward making us a no-kill nation by saving 90% or more of the animals in your shelter.

“This accomplishment represents so much more than a number. It represents a culture of caring and compassion. It represents a dedicated staff, committed volunteers and motivated supporters. It represents innovative, thoughtful programming. And it represents extraordinary leadership, both within your organization and within our broader animal welfare movement.”

Along with the letter, Castle shared her organization is providing Bartow County Animal Control with a “plague as a representation of your dedication, leadership and the incredible milestone you’ve reached on behalf of the animals we all love.”

For Nation, it is an honor for Bartow County Animal Control to receive this type of recognition.

“I was very appreciative for us to be recognized by such an organization as Best Friends,” he said. “It means a lot to us as we are rarely recognized for all of the good we have accomplished and all of the hard work we’ve put into achieving this.

“We are not looking for or expecting rewards but it is really encouraging for the department to be recognized and identified as successful. Our staff has a heart to serve the people and animals of our county and our service is rewarding in itself.”

Nation also provided more details, regarding what it means to be a no-kill organization.

“We were recognized for achieving and maintaining a no-kill status for 2022,” he said. “Our live release rate for 2022 was 93.5%, so only 6.5% of the animals were euthanized. The 6.5% was made up of sick or injured and aggressive animals. No adoptable animals were euthanized.

“In 2004, a large group of animal welfare leaders met in Asilomar, California, for the purpose of creating goals and developing ways to reduce the euthanasia of healthy animals. They agreed that to be considered no kill, a shelter would need to achieve a live release rate of at least 90%. They created a formula to calculate this percentage for shelters, and we meet or exceed the 90% live release rate.”

To achieve this distinction, Nation noted Bartow County Animal Control has “implemented new and best practices that have been proven successful in animal welfare” across the U.S.

“Some include, reducing stray hold from five to three days, discontinuing the setting of cat traps, providing more veterinary care for animals, amended county ordinance to approve cat colonies and trap-neuter-release programs — TNR, allowing feral cats to be rescued, eliminating stray hold period for puppies and kittens under 6 months old as well as sick, fragile and injured animals so that rescues can take possession immediately,” he said. “Diversion practices, such as providing education to pet owners to help them keep pets, providing low-cost vet service options, providing pet supplies, such as shelter and food.”

Nation also highlighted the essential role of Etowah Valley Humane Society and other organizations in helping give animals a second chance.

EVHS coordinates with many rescue and foster groups to move the majority of the animals out of the shelter,” he said. “It would be impossible to achieve no kill without these groups involved. We try to provide incentives for rescues to pull from our shelter, such as giving all animals a first round of vaccinations, charted health history while in our shelter, help with transports, additional health care depending on needs. We have added an exam room to our facility equipped for surgeries and hope to have a vet on site for spay/neuters in the near future.”

“I would say to EVHS along with the rescues and advocates — thank you. Again, it’s not possible without them. We can never say enough about all the sacrifices and hard work that goes into this accomplishment. Anyone in the animal welfare industry would find it absolutely impressive.”

Bartow County Animal Control’s staff members are currently intaking animals with backstories running the gamut. Located at 50 Ladds Mountain Road in Cartersville, BCAC only serves residents of Bartow, with no animals accepted from other counties.

“Right now, we are responding to as many calls as ever, as well as people bringing animals in,” Nation said. “There are no slow times of the year any longer. Dogs and cats both are steadily coming in, mostly strays but still plenty of owned animals.

“To the public — spay and neuter your pets. Do not pick up animals you encounter on the roadsides, studies show that 63% of dogs are found less than a mile from home while 26% are found just around the corner from home. These animals are likely just headed home and are intercepted by people unaware of the situation. Let these animals travel on, they have great instincts and will get back home without help most of the time. We are seeing a lot of this happening, and while we appreciate Good Samaritans, it’s not a safe practice to pick up strange animals.”

Those wanting to drop off an animal at Animal Control need to make an appointment by calling 770-387-5153.