Dogs and cats can provide love, hope, and companionship to their owners in times of need, but oftentimes these animals need help themselves. Every day animals are dumped, surrendered, and rescued from hostile and abusive environments. Sometimes these situations are merely byproducts of circumstance. Military personnel’s plans fall through when they’re deployed, elderly owners die, and animals escape through gaps in fences or when fleeing a fire.
Sometimes people fall onto hard times, and when the going gets rough, pets keep people going.
Whatever the case may be, animal rescue and animal owner support groups across the state are all united in their missions to aid these animals and owners alike when they’re at their most vulnerable.
Each of the following organizations fills a different role within the animal rescue and support space and each is necessary to keep as many animals off the streets and with their families as possible.
LifeLine Animal Project
LifeLine Animal Project is the largest animal rescue organization in the state of Georgia. They manage the operations of two county shelters (one in Dekalb and one in Fulton), a private animal shelter, a full-service veterinary clinic, and the Pets for Life outreach program.
LifeLine’s Dekalb County Placement Manager, Lane Johnson, said one of the main things that attracted him to LifeLine was its mission to help people keep their pets when they find themselves in difficult circumstances.
“People from all walks of life deserve their pets,” he said.
Through the Pets for Life outreach program, LifeLine has helped over 5,700 pets by connecting owners in need to various resources, whether that be spay and neuter operations, food, medications, or other supplies and veterinary assistance.
The first thing you see upon opening LifeLine’s Instagram account is the bio reading, “Working to end the euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals in Atlanta.” Despite LifeLine’s best efforts, between lower adoption rates, vet shortages, and huge numbers of animals coming into their shelters, the organization has had to begin euthanizing animals for space.
With over 500 dogs in LifeLine’s Dekalb County shelter, Johnson said the most pressing need is foster and adoptive homes. He said while they do their best to make the shelter as nice a space as possible for animals, it will never be the same as a home.
In the recent “Home for Pawlidays” program, folks were asked to foster animals for two weeks or more during the holiday season.
At the website, lifelineanimal.org/foster, you can find more information regarding long- and short-term fostering for both dogs and cats, and you can help save a life.
Atlanta Beagle Rescue
Atlanta Beagle Rescue is an all-volunteer organization focusing on rescuing beagles and beagle mixes and placing them in private foster homes throughout the metro Atlanta area.
Karla Schottle, the organization’s license holder, discussed the struggles beagles as a breed face.
“Beagles are one of the top ten breeds found in animal shelters,” she said. While beagles are wonderful companions and make for great family pets, they often require more patience than some people are prepared for. “They’re so cute, but they have headstrong personalities.”
When asked what would help ABR the most right now, Schottle listed two major needs: monetary donations and foster homes.
When Atlanta Beagle Rescue takes in a dog, they do everything they can to make it as healthy as can be before adopting it out, even if that means they’re in foster care for an extended period. Between multiple heartworm-positive dogs, dogs needing costly dental work, and two beagles needing amputations, the animals ABR took in this year decimated their monetary reserves, with their expenses nearly doubling what they spend in an average year.
Schottle stressed the importance of fostering dogs. She said, “By adopting you can save one life, but by fostering you can save many lives.”
As ABR doesn’t have a permanent shelter facility, foster families are integral to their ability to function and save the lives of America’s favorite scent hound.
Pets are Loving Support started in 1990 as a way to assist HIV/AIDS patients in taking care of their furry companions, and they’ve since grown to serve over 2,000 pet owners in the Atlanta area.
PALS works to provide food, supplies, vaccinations, and veterinary services at low to no cost to elderly, ill, disabled, and low-income pet owners. As stated clearly on its website, its mission is to help human clients “maintain their connection to hope, love, and companionship” by “providing for the needs of their pets.”
PALS’ Executive Director, Katherine Cummings, described the wonderful work she and her colleagues put into helping the community. They’ve given out over a ton of pet food this year, and during their November vaccine clinic event, they handed out over 200 pounds of food over only two hours.
There are a multitude of ways to get involved with PALS. By visiting palsatlanta.org, you can help to stock the pantry by shipping directly via links to Amazon and Chewy. Cummings said they currently do not need any more cat food donations, as the majority of the animals they serve are dogs.
They also host monthly Drag Bingo nights at Lips Atlanta! Ticket proceeds go to help raise funds for PALS and cash prizes are awarded to bingo winners. Additionally, PALS has four sponsorship levels through which businesses can back bingo nights and support the organization while garnering recognition from “as many as 200 attendees each month.”
Through the “Support a PALS Pet in 2024” campaign (accessible through a link on the homepage), donors can learn about 45 different cats and dogs and pledge donations to keep them fed and cared for. Cummings urges people to “consider asking family, office mates, book club members, or your neighbors to choose a PALS pet, and together you can donate to cover the 2024 costs for that pet. Think of it as adopting a pet you don’t have to walk or empty its litter box!”
Angels Among Us Pet Rescue
Angels Among Us Pet Rescue started in 2009 and has since saved the lives of over 21,000 dogs and cats in Georgia. It is an entirely foster-based network, rescuing animals from within the state and placing them in volunteers’ homes until they’re ready to be adopted.
Its website states that it works to achieve its mission of “[rescuing] one until there are none” through saving animals from shelters and through owner surrenders and educating “the public on the plight of animals that have found themselves in Georgia’s shelters or have suffered neglect or abuse to underscore the responsibilities of pet ownership and … to be the voice [for] these animals, some of whom have suffered unimaginable cruelty and abuse.”
Development and Events Director Jackie Spett said Angels Among Us “prides themselves on rescuing pets that need lots of vet care,” and she stressed that none of the heartbreaking photos of abused and neglected animals on the website are stock photos: “They’re all ours.”
Because they take on these difficult cases, vet bills can be staggering and are ever-increasing. Donations are down this year, and any monetary contributions go a long way.
Spett also said that because they don’t have a shelter facility and rely entirely upon people opening their hearts and homes to homeless animals, their number one need is fosters.
Angels Among Us covers all expenses associated with fostering an animal and can provide basic supplies should they be needed.
Short term fosters to take care of animals while their long-term foster families are traveling are also needed, especially around the holidays. This can be a great option for folks wanting to foster, but unable to make a long-term commitment.
More information can be found under the “Foster” tab on the website at angelsrescue.org.
Editor’s note (12/15/23): The original story misgendered Lane Johnson. This article has been edited to use Johnson’s correct pronouns.