There seems to be more stray dogs and cats this year than ever. Many pets are being surrendered to animal shelters, and more are being put out, abandoned and left to fend for themselves by dumpsters, on highways and in residential neighborhoods. The number of dogs I have seen – starving to death, looking like walking skeletons with little fur – is unbelievable. It is heartbreaking. These animals were somebody’s babies, and in a flash, they were left to wander alone.
Domestic animals need people. They depend on us for their food, shelter, safety and well-being. When a person makes a commitment to adopt an animal into his or her life, it should be for the life of that animal. If a life-changing event takes place, and a pet needs to be re-homed, there are alternatives. Check with family and friends first.
THERE ARE MANY rescue groups that can help. Augusta Animal Services can help. Social media can help. The solution isn’t always instant, but the need for help isn’t either. Plan ahead so arrangements can be made. Euthanizing animals is not a great answer, but it is much more humane than a life of neglect, abandonment and abuse. Make plans for your family pets in your will, so they are not put in a bad situation when they lose you.
Augusta has many animal rescue resources. Augusta Animal Services, on Mack Lane just off Tobacco Road, is the place to go to adopt a pet (spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped), or to look for lost pets. Call the office first – (706) 790-6836 – or, better yet, go check for yourself as soon as you know your pet is missing. The facility is full of dogs and cats of all ages, sizes and breeds, waiting to be part of your family. As of this writing, there even is a horse and a potbellied pig that will be available for adoption shortly. There are pictures of adoptable animals on its website and at petharbor.com.
AUGUSTA ANIMAL Services is on standby alert for disaster and emergency preparedness. It is in need of volunteers, and is
accepting donations of basic items needed for the care of animals in case of a major disaster.
A very common misconception is that people think our county animal shelter is by Lake Olmstead. It is not. The CSRA Humane Society – (706) 261-7387 – operates a no-kill shelter in the old stockade building, housing many adoptable dogs and cats. It, like the many other rescue organizations throughout the CSRA, holds fund-raising events throughout the year to help with the costs of animal rescue. It has set times when a
person looking for a family pet
can go in and look for their new pet.
WE ACTUALLY HAVE two humane societies. The Augusta Humane Society is a separate entity from the CSRA Humane Society. The Augusta Humane Society boards its rescue animals at Graced Animal Services and Kennel – (706)738-7168 – just off Sibley Road on Colony Park Road. It has facilities to house rescue animals as well as to accommodate boarding and grooming. You can meet adoptable animals there during regular business hours.
There are many more rescue organizations, and some do not have facilities to house the animals they take in, so many rely on volunteers to foster animals until they can be adopted into safe and loving homes. If you are willing to foster a dog, cat, puppy or kitten, please volunteer. More help is always needed.
There are some groups that pull adoptable animals out of county facilities and take them to adoption events in hopes of finding their forever homes. Cats, dogs and other animals are available for adoption at all the pet stores. There also are organizations that simply raise funds and network to help with animal rescue work. There really are lots of people throughout our community who give their hearts, time and resources to help with this cause so dear to our hearts.
Yet the work never ends. Some people do not take seriously the need for spaying and neutering animals. The overpopulation crisis is a direct result of this. Some people engage in “backyard breeding” – people who breed dogs to sell but rarely give them proper care. We see it in the mama dogs we find abandoned – they obviously have been nursing recently, yet are starving to death. We see it in the malnourished, sickly pups we find. Many of these dogs end up in dogfighting situations, and live – and die – horribly.
ONE WOULD THINK common sense would prevail, but since it is lacking in today’s society, rules and ordinances are necessary to guide people to take good care of companion animals. In Augusta, most ordinances regarding animals have not been updated in more than 30 years. There is a team of people working to bring them up to date, and deal with many of the issues that have become noticeably problematic in recent years.
IT’S IN THE works – and you can be part of the solution. You can volunteer to foster animals, or help with fund-raising. You can donate money or items needed in rescue work. You can spay/neuter and microchip your pets, and encourage everyone you know to be responsible pet owners. Social media sites such as Facebook are great ways to share information about lost or found pets. Let your Augusta commissioner know you think it is important to update ordinances about animals, so
they can help expedite the process. There is a list of many of the animal rescue resources and contact information on the website www.thatswhatfriendsarefor.org.
Networking works. Together we can turn the tide and lower the number of adoptable animals
that are euthanized each year,
and help make sure that companion animals are humanely cared for.
(The writer – co-owner of the Village Deli in Augusta – is the founder and president of the animal rescue group That’s What Friends Are For.)