According to the American Humane Association, annually millions of cats and dogs are euthanized in United States animal shelters because there are more pets than there are responsible pet owners.
Fortunately, Fort Valley State University's commitment to service and animal life has helped several puppies stay alive and well.
On July 11, FVSU's State Animal Facility for Emergencies (SAFE) Center opened its doors taking in 20 dogs scheduled to be euthanized this week. The dogs were stray animals being housed at a middle Georgia animal control facility.
"There was nowhere else for these animals to go in middle Georgia. Everybody is beyond full and they were just going to die," said Dr. George McCommon who serves as director of the FVSU SAFE Center.
The SAFE Center is a 7,800 square-foot facility equipped to house 105 dogs, 80 cats and 30 horses during natural and man-made disasters. The center which became fully activated in 2012 is managed by FVSU staff. It also serves as a hands-on classroom for veterinary science students enrolled at FVSU. Although the center is primarily set up for disasters, McCommon said service is the main priority.
McCommon said when he received the call and learned of the puppies' fate; he immediately wanted to save the animals lives.
"We will take care of their health issues and provide shelter and food. We have enough people to do it, and it's just the right thing to do," McCommon said.
For a week, veterinary science students and FVSU staff will provide vaccinations, deworming and treatment for parasites. They will also feed and provide other necessities.
After their treatments, they will be sent to a rescue shelter in Arizona where the puppies will be adopted by responsible pet owners.
McCommon, who also serves as an associate professor in the FVSU Department of Veterinary Sciences and Public Health said, his staff and students have used this experience as a teachable moment.
"We're an asset for the community and were willing to use our time and experience to help people and animals,"McCommon said.
For more information about the SAFE Center and its use, contact FVSU's Department of Veterinary Science and Public Health at 478-825-6424 or visit ag.fvsu.edu.