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Something good came out of 2020: Humane Society of Northeast Georgia reports uptick in animal adoptions
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Jyleiah Wyatt tends to cats Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, at the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia. The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia just got its "impact numbers" in for the amount of animals they've rescued/adopted during 2020. - photo by Scott Rogers

Even though it closed to the public for several months in 2020, the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia never shut its doors to animals in need.

Amid the crisis, the nonprofit continued to save dogs, cats and other furry friends, and even experienced a slight increase in adoptions compared to the previous year. 

In 2020, Sam Threadgill, the organization’s development and marketing director, said the Humane Society was able to find forever homes for 1,318 animals, including 781 dogs, 533 cats, three guinea pigs and one rabbit. In 2019, 1,227 were adopted from the nonprofit. 

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A cat paws at passersby Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, at the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia. The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia just got its "impact numbers" in for the amount of animals they've rescued/adopted during 2020. - photo by Scott Rogers

“It’s been a great year for animals in North Georgia,” Threadgill said. “Honestly, we just couldn’t have done it without our supporters, donors and volunteers.”

Threadgill said several factors contributed to the successful year of adoptions. She suspects those who now work from home because of the pandemic were more inclined to rescue animals. To make sure adopters know the responsibility of caring for a cat or dog, the Humane Society conducts a followup process, keeping in touch with them for months. 

Threadgill also attributes the nonprofit’s adoption rate to the new animal foster coordinator who helped grow its network of temporary homes for cats and dogs.

“We’re able to take more animals because of that,” she said.

Before the Humane Society temporarily closed to the public on March 24, the Humane Society launched a “clear the shelter event” to adopt all the facility’s animals. In three days the organization did just that, adopting out 104 cats and dogs. Threadgill said this short period of time served as the nonprofit’s largest adoption event of the year.

“It enabled us to continue taking in animals,” she said. “The community has been great and stuck behind us.”

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Justin Smith cleans out the dog kennels with a water hose Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, at the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia. The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia just got its "impact numbers" in for the amount of animals they've rescued/adopted during 2020. - photo by Scott Rogers

Threadgill said around 50% of the animals that arrive at the Humane Society are surrendered by owners, and the other half come from shelters. During 2020, she said a few surrender cases were related to COVID-19. 

“Some had to downsize and couldn’t take the animal with them,” she said. 

To keep up with the nonprofit’s annual $2.2 million budget, which is used to care for its animal residents, the Humane Society gathers funds from donations and service fees from its Healthy Pet Clinic. 

Luckily, the nonprofit’s biggest fundraiser of the year, Art with Heart, kicked off in February 2020, before the pandemic hit. Threadgill said they were able to raise a little less than $200,000.

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Erika Lopez speaks with a client through a window Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, at the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia Healthy Pet Clinic. The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia just got its "impact numbers" in for the amount of animals they've rescued/adopted during 2020. - photo by Scott Rogers

“Our donors have been amazing during 2020,” she said. “We have met our fundraising goals throughout the year.”

This year’s Art with Heart has been set for April 17 and will take place with limited seating at the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville. People will also be able to participate in the live and silent art auction online. 

Over 2020, the clinic’s veterinary team provided medical and preventative care for 5,500 dogs and 2,500 cats. Threadgill said the nonprofit is currently looking to hire two veterinarians, including a medical director and associate vet. 

“Our biggest thing right now is finding a vet,” she said. “Our current medical director (Viviana Rodriguez) has her own private practice, Hemlock Animal Hospital in Dahlonega, and she’s currently doing both practices. It’s time for her to run her business. We hope to find someone as wonderful as she is.”

Those interested in helping the nonprofit are encouraged to make a monetary donation or contribute an item found on its website’s wishlist. For more information, visit humanesocietyofnortheastgeorgia.org. 


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Donna Ziegenfuss plays with Zelena, a dog up for adoption, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, at the Humane Society of Hall County. The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia just got its "impact numbers" in for the amount of animals they've rescued/adopted during 2020. - photo by Scott Rogers
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