Officials say animal shelter 2-pound rule ‘misleading’
by Rachel Gray
May 11, 2014 04:00 AM | 4265 views | 9 9 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Penny the puppy and Leonard the kitten, both about five to six weeks old, have been nurturing each other at the Cobb animal shelter. After Penny would not stop crying, Leonard was added to soothe her. A rescue organization out of Kennesaw, Mostly Muts, arrived at the shelter Friday to collect both. <br> Special to the MDJ
Penny the puppy and Leonard the kitten, both about five to six weeks old, have been nurturing each other at the Cobb animal shelter. After Penny would not stop crying, Leonard was added to soothe her. A rescue organization out of Kennesaw, Mostly Muts, arrived at the shelter Friday to collect both.
Special to the MDJ
Managing Director of Cobb’s Animal Control Lt. Cheryl Shepard holds a kitten inside the shelter. In 2013, Shepard said 10,215 animals were brought to the shelter.
Managing Director of Cobb’s Animal Control Lt. Cheryl Shepard holds a kitten inside the shelter. In 2013, Shepard said 10,215 animals were brought to the shelter.
MARIETTA — A sign taped on the glass in the lobby of Cobb’s animal shelter reads, “Kittens will NOT be accepted for adoption under two pounds.”

Although the sign has spurred anxiety among visitors worried about the fate of these small creatures, Managing Director of Animal Control Lt. Cheryl Shepard said the notice was placed there to prompt the public to ask questions.

Shepard said the survivability rate of a cat decreases the smaller the animal is, and “two pounds gives them the best chance” for their system to regulate sugar levels and body temperature and build immunity.

The sign is a strong message to encourage owners to keep kittens just long enough to “plump them up,” Shepard said.

But if the kitten is a stray, the shelter — part of Cobb’s Department of Public Safety located off County Services Parkway — will care for the animal in hopes of finding a foster home.

The temporary housing is needed until the kitten reaches around eight weeks and can be spayed or neutered and turned over for adoption.

By law, Shepard said, the shelter cannot allow an animal to be adopted without being spayed or neutered. The majority of young kittens housed at the shelter waiting to be fixed will become ill.

“The longer you keep a kitten in a shelter environment, the greater the chance of becoming sick,” Shepard said.

One-third of animals at the shelter are turned in by their owners, Shepard said, which is why its staff assists families with access to animal food pantries, obedience training and referrals for medical issues.

“We want to help people keep their pets,” Shepard said.

It costs $115 to adopt a cat or dog, which includes microchipping, vaccinations and spaying or neutering. The spaying and neutering is performed at the Cobb shelter.

Employees take information from a potential adopter’s driver’s license, which is used to track whether the person has turned in animals to the shelter before.

“We are really unable to do a screening process,” Shepard said. It is the discretion of the shelter’s management if a person is denied adoption.

Cats and dogs shipped to colder northern states

Shepard calls cats “warm weather breeders,” which for Georgia means they can reproduce practically year-round.

With the summer season approaching, Shepard said Cobb is about to have a “wave” of kittens born.

“Every shelter is going to be inundated by the box load,” she said.

To combat this wave, the shelter partners with rescue organizations in the county to ship animals to states in the Northeast, where the cold makes for a shorter breeding season and spaying or neutering is practiced more often.

“They are finding a shortage of family pets,” said Billy Mayfield, Cobb’s operations manager at the animal shelter.

A van can be loaded with as many as 50 dogs and between 20 to 35 cats for each journey, but in order for the transport to occur, the animals must be quarantined out of the shelter for two weeks.

This is why Shepard said the Cobb animal shelter relies so heavily on foster families.

“It is usually only a two- or three-week commitment,” she said.

In 2013, Shepard said 10,215 animals were brought to the shelter. The majority were reclaimed by owners or adopted out, but 3,704 were euthanized.

Mayfield has been trained and certified to perform euthanizations.

Adult dogs and cats are injected intravenously with a drug to stop the animal’s heart, Mayfield said.

But for kittens, the veins are too small and require the shot straight to the heart. In both cases, the animal is sedated for the procedure.

“We want to be transparent. This is the county’s shelter,” Shepard said. “We need the county’s involvement and help.”

Shepard said the shelter does not have an exact limit on the amount of time an animal can be housed at the shelter before being euthanized.

Factors leading to the need for euthanizations include the animal’s health and aggression level, as well as the availability of space.

“There is a finite number of cages,” Shepard said about the 277 cages at the shelter, some which can hold multiple kittens or puppies.


The Cobb Animal Shelter’s annual Spring Adopt-A-Thon will be May 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Shelter at 1060 Al Bishop Drive in Marietta.

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Debbie H
May 27, 2014
I adopted 2 great dogs from Cobb county...Had a wonderful experience with adopting from them. Adopted April in 2011 she was a owner surrender. Very sweet girl. went back 2012 and adopted a male named him Buster. he was a stray. Very happy dog. sad animals have to be put down. Too many irresponsible pet owners. Need tough spay/neuter laws. A pet is a commitment.
May 12, 2014
It is a terrible shame and waste that so many wonderful animals have to be euthanized. The answer to prevent this is spay/neuter and there are low cost clinics out there for families in need. I volunteer for Cobb AC and can tell you without exaggeration about 98% of the animals who come in, whether owner turn ins or strays, are not spay/neutered. The shelter gets overloaded and there becomes no more room so the animals are euthanized. It is so heartbreaking for the volunteers who have to deal with this every day. GA seriously needs spay/neuter laws. Please be a responsible pet owner and spay/neuter your animals. Not only will you help the pet overpopulation, and help to prevent animals from being put to sleep, it is healthier for your pets. Thank you and please spread the word.
Very concerned
May 12, 2014
The problem of pet over population could be better solved if Cobb County allowed mobile low cost spay and neuter clinics to come into Cobb without the hassles that are currently imposed by making them get "peddlers'licenses". These low cost spay and neuter could travel to the low income, high income areas of Cobb and help tackle the issue of over population. The county commissioners need to have this on their agenda. If these clinics are not allowed or made to "jump through hoops", then maybe there needs to be "Free Spay/Neuter Days" by every vet in Cobb County. The euthanasia statistics of Cobb Animal Control certainly speak to the need of spay/neuter and the need for more affordable programs. This newspaper needs to continue to explore this issue and the statistics.
Peggy Minchew
May 12, 2014
Dr. Shepherd is the best thing that ever happened to Cobb County Animal Control. She is making a big difference for the lives of the animals under her care and she is appreciated for all her efforts. She has a very difficult job and I don't know how she does it all. Of course, Billy Mayfield is great too. It's imperative that the community help with spaying and neutering, especially the stray cats, as there are always too many, leaving no choice but to put them down. If you have a colony of feral kitties in your neighborhood, contact the shelter about getting them spayed and neutered. There are inexpensive ways to do it.
May 12, 2014
It is a crying dang shame that people are out there that take in animals, being the good heart, that do not spay or neuter their pets and allow them to breed. It is a crying dang shame that people want "Fi-Fi" the pure bred poodle or "Precious" the pure bred tiny purse dog, or "Fido" the vicious guard dog. I hate all of you that do not support adoption programs in front of breeding so that you can own a dog or cat trophy. Help me stamp out the need to kill dogs and cats. If someone says to you, "I am going to adopt a pure bred lab," I say to them, "only if you allow a mixed breed lab to die." And it will. If you say, "my puppy chews up my carpet," say in return, "well, you adopted a puppy and that is what puppies do." I know people that surrender animals to Cobb Animal Control are not regular readers of the MDJ, however, please spread the word to all the wealthy people that can afford pets to adopt from here rather than paying money for Fi-Fi, who was not bred into birth and a loving home. I pray whenever I get in my car that I will not encounter a stray animal and Cobb County is doing an excellent job that I do not have to see that. However, the problem is not solved. There are still 10,000 animals plus animals relinquisnd every year. We need to make this number zero.
Tony Coker
May 11, 2014
Ms. Shepard and all of the employees at cobb County animal control are true professionals and do a very important job for the animals and citizens of Cobb. I applaud their efforts and passion for their difficult mission
Fran Jackson
May 11, 2014
Thank you to Lt. Shepard and the employees for their care and concern for the kittens. "Fading kitten syndrome" is a problem in kittens under 2 lbs. and the best thing the public can do is to keep the kittens with the mom as long as possible to give them a fighting chance. Spay/neuter is the answer to the problem of overpopulation and would cut down the numbers of puppies and kittens coming into the shelter. And consider adopting from the shelter or a rescue before you "buy" from a pet store or a breeder.
Concerned Citizen
May 11, 2014
I adopted a beautiful Calico cat which was rescued by a foundation on the very last day before she was scheduled to be killed at a shelter. Oh, what a tragedy it would have been if my baby had lost her life! She is so beautiful and loving and a perfect pet. As citizens we have an obligation to these animals which add so much to our lives.
May 12, 2014
Very commendable of you, not knocking you at all, however, you do realize if this calico was not adopted by a rescue group, it would have been put down. Please do this for me. Spread the word about where this cat you adopted came from and stop more from the same source. In honor of Mother's Day, take steps to make sure beautiful Calico's are not put down. You can make a difference.
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