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Grant runs out for Newton animal shelter
Adoption fees rising Jan. 1 to cover actual cost of veterinarian's services after money subsidizing it ends
Adoption fee increase
From left, Newton County Animal Services director Cindy Wiemann stands with Tanya Weaver and Jane Stewart, both of Planned Pethood, after a recent ribbon cutting ceremony for the expansion and renovation of the county animal shelter on Lower River Road. - photo by Tom Spigolon

COVINGTON, Ga. — Animal lovers looking to adopt a pet from Newton County’s animal shelter will have to pay a little more after Jan. 1.

Fees are increasing about 25% after the Newton County Board of Commissioners recently approved an increase requested by Animal Services director Cindy Wiemann.

The adoption fees will increase to $100 from the current $75 for a dog; and to $75 from $60 for a cat.

Wiemann said the increase is needed to compensate for funds running out from a one-time, $48,000 grant from Best Friends Animal Society that the nonprofit Planned Pethood requested for the Newton County shelter.

She explained the funding was used to subsidize what the Newton shelter must pay a veterinarian for the service at Planned Pethood’s Gwinnett County clinic. The grant was part of a Best Friends pilot program for rural shelters to provide spay and neuter services. 

Wiemann said the Newton County shelter’s actual cost for the services it provides are $80 to $90 for a veterinarian to perform the surgery. It also charges $10 for a microchip which allows the owner to locate the animal if lost throughout its lifetime; and $6 for rabies and other vaccinations.

Raising the fees will cover the amount of the ended grant — which allowed shelter officials to pay the veterinarian about half of the actual cost, she said.

“Otherwise, the taxpayers would have to pay it,” Wiemann said.

She added that she hoped the increase would not affect the adoption rate — and the new fees are still lower than what many area rescue groups and shelters charge for similar services.

The Animal Services website states that impounded animals and lost or stray animals residents bring to the shelter are held for three business days before being offered for adoption. 

Owner-surrendered animals are made available for adoption immediately upon arrival, the website stated.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture licenses shelters and requires them to comply with a state law that says animals adopted from the shelter must be spayed and neutered.

Planned Pethood sends a van weekly to the Newton County shelter to pick up and transport 20 to 25 animals to its Duluth facility for the surgeries, Wiemann said. 

The nonprofit then transports the animals back to the Lower River Road shelter.

Those adopting animals from the Newton shelter must be at least 18 years old, provide verifiable identification and sign a legally binding adoption agreement.

They also must pay the adoption fees and “guarantee adequate exercise, food, water, shelter, vaccinations, medical care, grooming, identification, lifelong care and love for your new pet,” the website stated.

Adoption fees
A dog works to gain attention from visitors to the Newton County Animal Shelter recently. - photo by Tom Spigolon