Macon-Bibb's Stray Pet Population | Families
Around 5,000 cats and dogs end up in the Macon-Bibb Animal Welfare Shelter each year.
Seven out of ten of them don't make it out.
"That's a lot of animals," says shelter director Sarah Tenon.
Patti Jones with the animal rescue group Central Georgia CARES says when the economy goes down, the number of stray animals goes up, but she's also seen more people giving up their pets and taking them to the shelter.
"One of the reasons that we hear is because of cost," adds Jones. "It surprises people a lot of times to know the cost of caring for an animal. It's not just getting an animal that's cute, you have to provide medical care, you have to provide quality food."
According to the ASPCA, a pet owner will spend between $600 and $900 a year on needs including pet food and vet bills.
Jones says owners also turn in their pets because of behavioral problems.
Gordon Turner with the Macon Kennel Club brought his dog 'Hunter' to the 13WMAZ studio and shared a few easy fixes to keep your animal under control.
"When you're teaching a dog, you actually want them to make mistakes," says Turner. "Because it's only when you point out that they've made a mistake that they know they've exceeded where they're supposed to be. If you're trying to teach them something in particular and they're not getting it right, don't stop the training right there. If you're frustrated, the dog gets frustrated at not accomplishing what it wanted. Move over to something else that you know the dog can do, and then after successfully doing that, reward the dog, praise the dog, and end the training session at that time."
He says working with the animal in five-to-ten minute segments a few times a day will help them retain their training.
Tenon says her biggest pet peeve is irresponsible owners.
"That's really the bottom line is people are just irresponsible. You know, people get up, they let their dog out in the morning before work, and a lot of times, the dog doesn't come back and they gotta be at work. So little 'Fufu', he's just still running around and hopefully he'll be okay when they get back."
That's why she's relying on education of pet owners to keep animals out of the shelter.
She's also created a program for owners who are having trouble keeping their pet.
Whether it's cost, behavior, or time issues, Tenon teams them up with trainers and outreach groups to help.
You can follow reporter Katelyn Heck on Twitter at @katelynheck or 'Like' her on Facebook at facebook.com/katelynheckwmaz.