A visit to the Georgetown Animal Shelter
Whether folks are thinking about volunteering with animals or looking for a new “fur-ever” friend, a visit to the Georgetown Animal Shelter should be on the to-do list. But fair warning: upon meeting all the adorable animals, anyone with a pulse may have a hard time leaving without adopting a new pal!
The facility is bright and clean and never seems to have a musty smell. The pleasant atmosphere invites people to stick around longer and visit with the animals, leading to more adoptions. In 2016, the shelter adopted out about 900 animals and returned about 500 lost animals to their families. Keeping a busy animal shelter clean and fresh is not easy, but even with a staff of just 12 people, the folks at the Georgetown Shelter make it happen.
The areas where the animals live are large and cheerful. The cats even have their own “catio” so they can take advantage of mild Texas days to sniff the air, birdwatch, and take cat naps. Between snoozes, they have lots of volunteer pals to play with—a core group of about 50 volunteers with more who come in whenever they can. Volunteers help the cats get ready for adoption by sharing quality lap time, playing with toys, and enjoying tons of cuddles and purrs.
Dog people will find up to 14 adoptable dogs waiting in the indoor/outdoor runs to meet their new families. There are big dogs, teeny dogs, and everything in between . . . and some are a real bargain to adopt! Animals whose stay at the shelter exceeds two months become members of the Lonely Hearts Club. Their adoption fee is only $25. The normal adoption fee is $70 and includes spay/neuter, vaccinations, microchipping, a bag of food, and a vet voucher.
Huge shade trees keep the play yards cool in summer. Volunteers can relax with the dogs in the yard, go for a walk, or both.
Volunteer Russ Ruff (yes, that’s really his name!) says, “I take the dogs to the yard to run free, play with toys, have lap time, and so on. I get an idea of their personality so that when I show them to potential adopters, I have a feel for whether a particular dog would be a good fit for them. Then we go on a walk where we can work on manners like sit, down, and stay.”
The volunteers take excellent care of the animals and the shelter staff also works tirelessly to ensure the welfare of their feline and canine charges. Marketing manager Shawn Gunnin, who runs the front office along with rescue manager Jessie Pierce, says, “We run on a small staff. Currently, we have two animal control officers—Kelly Thyssen and John Torrez.”
The animal control officers have a tough job but are the epitome of patience and self-control. Daily, they walk into situations where people have been abusing and neglecting animals, calmly try to help the animals, and educate the people about proper animal care at the same time.
Shawn, Jessie, and new shelter manager April Haughey each wear many hats, including assisting potential adopters, coordinating foster care for kittens, and setting up PetSmart adoption events. Also on staff are a veterinarian, two animal health technicians, and five kennel techs.
Many folks wonder how the Georgetown Shelter and the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter differ. “At the Georgetown Shelter, we take in animals found within city limits or surrendered by residents of the city,” Shawn explains. “Williamson County Shelter takes in animals from residents of the rest of the county.”
Some people think that animal shelters are depressing. But the animals that end up at the Georgetown Shelter are surrounded with love and care . . . and, with any luck, they’re on their way to a wonderful new home with a family who will love them!
City of Georgetown Animal Shelter
110 W L Walden Dr.
Georgetown, TX 78626
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday: Noon–4 p.m.
Shelter manager Jackie Carey recently retired after 21 years. Her biggest achievement was helping the shelter reach no kill status (10% or fewer). In 2009–10, the shelter euthanized 34 percent. In 2015–16, only 6.5 percent were euthanized. One useful tool that has allowed the Georgetown Shelter to achieve these numbers is Temperament Testing. The shelter requires dogs to pass this test before being moved to adoption. The test helps staff identify the dog’s level of training, positive traits, and any problem behaviors.
If your pet gets lost, try these tips:
Helpful Tip #1: Post its picture and description on your neighborhood’s NextDoor app (available on iPhone and Android and at www.nextdoor.com).The shelter folks regularly check this app to try to locate owners of lost pets that end up at their door.
Helpful Tip #2: Check websites for all shelters within a 60-mile radius. The shelter staff says it’s amazing how far an animal can wander and still be found and reunited with its owners.