Riley is happy and healthy thanks to the volunteers of one of the area's two new animal welfare groups.
The skinny and scared 8-week-old shepherd-mix puppy was found wandering the streets of North Augusta and brought to Debbie Prince, a founding volunteer of Happy Tails Rescue.
The group, which started in December, rescues unwanted and stray cats and dogs around the entire CSRA, and gives them medical care and foster homes until they can be adopted, said president Barbara Gleitsmann. The group holds weekly adoptions at SuperPetz and Connie's Happy Tails.
"I am confident that we are going to make a significant difference in this community as far as animals are concerned," Gleitsmann said. "We are just a core group of dedicated volunteers who are extremely passionate about this cause. We pledge to make a tremendous difference in the community."
The Happy Tails volunteers are not the only ones dedicated to better the lives of animals.
Teri Wood holds two of the puppies up for
adoption at Happy Tails Rescue in Martinez.
Photo by Michael Holahan
A life-long animal lover, who often spent her own money to save dogs from the animal shelter and adopt them out herself, Bonnie Whittle said she is glad to be the Columbia County volunteer for Kanine Kids.
Kanine Kids is a foster-care system for small-breed dogs in the metropolitan Atlanta area.
"(Kanine Kids) is a fantastic organization that takes great care of their animals," said Whittle, who already has taken three dogs to Atlanta. "Before they are euthanized I take them out and run them to Atlanta. They will be placed with Kanine Kids whether they are very sick or perfectly healthy. It might be overnight or it make take months. They will be eventually placed or kept for life."
The nonprofit organization takes dogs from several county shelters across Georgia, provides veterinary care and spaying or neutering, then places them with foster families until they can be adopted out. None of the canines in the Kanine Kids program are ever euthanized, regardless of how long it may take for them to be adopted.
"As they explained it to me, the Atlanta area has a shortage of small dogs. With the city-type atmosphere that they have, they have a great need for small dogs that just aren't available from their shelters," said Columbia County Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker, who oversees the county's animal-control service.
Tucker said she researched the group and discovered them to be a reputable, state-licensed organization. At a May 20 meeting the Columbia County Board of Commissioners approved Tucker's proposal to allow Kanine Kids to take the county animal shelter's small dogs free of charge to Atlanta if adoptees do not come forward locally.
"Every effort is made to adopt out locally," Tucker said. "If that fails and the Humane Society is full, then Kanine Kids will take them."
Happy Tails' five foster volunteers are incorporating and getting the rescue's nonprofit 501 (c) 3 status, and they have the proper licenses from the Department of Agriculture.
"I think one of the things that is going to set us apart is that we are eager to serve the entire CSRA instead of just a part," Gleitsmann said. "Another thing that sets us apart is that one faction of our group is eager and already working with the feral cat population."
They are the only group in Augusta that catch cats, spay or neuter them and release them in safe areas.
Whittle, like the rescue volunteers, does the work because he loves animals and wants to make a difference through affiliation with welfare organizations.
"You can get upset about all the animals being euthanized, but unless you're willing to help you're spinning your wheels," she said. "You have to get out. It is a lot of work, but it's also a reward that no amount of money can buy. I feel good when I shut my eyes each night."
For information on Happy Tails Rescue or to donate supplies, time or funds, call 863-5310 or visit www.happytailsrescue.com or www.petfinder.com/shelters/GA202.html.
Kanine Kids can be reached through the Web site www.kaninekids.com, or by calling (678) 318-1839, or e-mail email@example.com. Whittle, wife of Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle, said the organization will adopt pets to people outside of the Atlanta area.
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