Three years ago, Debi Gibson walked into the CSRA Humane Society to donate supplies.
Hours later, she left with Nobby.
“My husband and I fell in love,” Gibson said. “We had to adopt.”
Shelter volunteer Susan McGahee said Gibson’s story is one of many examples of what brings people back to Paws in the Park.
On Saturday, the CSRA Humane Society held its seventh annual charity walk near Lake Olmstead, with all proceeds benefiting shelter animals.
Paws in the Park was also designed to promote awareness about spaying and neutering.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of having your animal spayed or neutered,” McGahee said. “There are way too many animals on the streets without homes.”
The charity walk, which began in 2008, raised $1,800 its inaugural year and nearly $4,000 in 2013.
This year, Paws in the Park earned $2,000 in sponsorships alone.
“It’s really cool to see how much people enjoy this day,” said event creator Megan McGahee, a University of Georgia student and Susan McGahee’s daughter. “I always dreamed this would become (an annual) event.”
For Gibson, it’s a reminder of why she adopted.
“Not only is this a fun day for Nobby, but it’s a great way to give back to this wonderful place,” she said. “The Humane Society does a tremendous job and the fact they’re a no-kill shelter means so much. They love these animals.”
Last year the city of Augusta euthanized 70 percent of animals admitted to rescue facilities, a number Susan McGahee hopes to see reduced.
“I couldn’t volunteer at a shelter that euthanizes animals,” she said. “We want every animal to find a loving home.”
Currently, there are 21 dogs and 100 cats at the shelter.
“We use the funds from Paws in the Park to buy food, pay vet and electricity bills, as well as cleaning supplies,” Humane Society treasurer Jeff Coffey said. “Our electric bill is $1,500 a month.”
Two walks took place Saturday, the first for pet owners and the second for those looking to adopt.
Susan McGahee said the interaction between potential owners and shelter dogs sometimes pays immediate dividends.
“We talk to the potential owner first, and then we pair them with a dog that we think might be a good match,” she said. “Twelve of our 21 dogs are being walked today, so hopefully some will find a home.”
There is no centralized database for tracking shelter deaths in Georgia, but the U.S. Humane Society said euthanasia numbers have declined sharply nationwide – from about 15 million cats and dogs euthanized in 1970 to about 3.4 million
“Right now, there are so many unwanted and un-cared for animals,” Gibson said. “It’s a real problem. Shelters are filling up
and people really need to understand the importance of having their pets spayed or neutered.”
Staff Writer Wesley Brown contributed to this article.