Time isn't always on the side of homeless pets in shelters in the Atlanta metro area.
Many homeless dogs and cats who wind up in animal shelters are coming off of bad situations, such as being abused or living on the streets, or are given up by people who no longer want them or can't afford their care any longer.
They end up in shelters, where a happy ending might or might not be in store.
There are two types of animal shelters. "Kill" shelters keep cats and dogs for a period of time (days, weeks, sometimes months or as long as they stay healthy) before they are euthanized due to overcrowding. At "no kill" shelters the animals live and are cared for until they are adopted.
Most shelters in the United States are kill shelters. There are both kinds in the state of Georgia.
LifeLine Animal Project in Avondale Estates runs two non-profit, low-cost spay and neuter clinics and also has two no-kill shelters: the Dog House and the Kitty Motel.
The Dog House and Kitty Motel stay full, so great is the need, but when an animal is adopted, it frees up space for another homeless pet to come in and be cared for, rehabilitated if need be (and many need to be), and live until they too are adopted.
LifeLine staff takes the view that when an animal in need comes to live with them that pet is "halfway home." Sometimes there are a few steps to be take -- medical or trauma care, house or leash training -- before a pet is ready for adoption and these things take time.
How long is too long before an animal is considered simply not adoptable? Apparently there is no time limit. Just like with people, pets sometimes make a happy match quickly but more often it takes a time to get the ingredients right for a happy ending.
Brooklyn the dog was at LifeLine for three years before she found the perfect people for her.
"She was a mess when she came in, " said Debbie Setzer, LifeLine's community outreach director, "but we took care of her and worked with her and when she left here she was a great pet."
Brooklyn is now happy and healthy in her new home.
Setzer reports that there are many homeless pets at LifeLine who are more than ready to move into a forever home.
"Jenna is a good example, " she said, "Jenna is a medium-sized lab and pit bull mix who is so ready to be homed. We rescued her from a hoarding situation and as a result she's a bit shy, but walks on a leash so well and gets along with other pets beautifully. She's ready."
LifeLine has a database on their website of adoptable dogs and cats from their and other shelters in the metro area, including at-risk pets from county shelters.
As Tom Petty sang in a hit song two decades ago, the waiting is the hardest part.