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Pets & Animals

Local Heroes Come to Animals’ Rescue

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Pet Rescue

Two groups that that save animal lives

After losing the German Shepherd rescue dog she’d loved for a decade when he died suddenly, Debbie Robinson said she’d never own another dog.

She decided that, when she was emotionally ready, she would instead foster homeless dogs at her Peachtree Corners home. She already had an organization in mind — Canine Pet Rescue (CPR), a Dacula-based nonprofit that rescues German Shepherds and other herding breeds from kill shelters in the South.

Robinson and many other local residents are saving animals’ lives through CPR and other groups such as Furkids, an Atlanta-based animal rescue and shelter nonprofit that operates a thrift store in Peachtree Corners.

About a dozen Peachtree Corners residents, including CPR’s adoption coordinator Therese Aleman and foster coordinator Lila Hunter, volunteer or foster with CPR. Some of these volunteers and other local residents have adopted dogs through the organization, which helped find permanent homes for 100 dogs last year, Aleman said.

Samantha Shelton, CEO and founder of the Furkids animal rescue and shelter program, holds a puppy available for adoption while visiting Furkids’ new property in Cumming.
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Meeting Maui

Robinson visited CPR two days after Dante died in July 2017 to donate his unopened medicine. She let the group know she was interested in fostering but said she was not “100 percent ready.”

That resistance evaporated quickly. In September, she and her husband Barry accepted their first foster dog. In October, several foster dogs later, they took in the dog they could not part with — a thin, approximately 1-year-old German Shepherd they named Maui.

“For the first week, whenever she found a corner to hide in, that’s what she would do,” Robinson said.

The following week they got a call that someone was interested in adopting Maui. By that time, she had begun to allow the Robinsons to pet her and show her love.

“I just looked at Barry and said, ‘I can’t go through this again,“ Robinson said. Maui had found her new permanent home, and she’d brought with her a startling surprise.

Two weeks after arriving at the Robinsons’ home, Maui was at a vet’s office to be spayed when it was discovered that she was pregnant. She gave birth a week and a half later to 11 puppies. Eight males and one female, who was blind, survived.

CPR told the Robinsons they were willing to take the puppies off their hands, but the Robinsons chose to foster them all until they were old enough to be adopted out — a minimum of 10 weeks by CPR’s rules.

“We had a rip-roaring time,” Robinson said, of those days.

By last March, seven of the puppies had been adopted by families who regularly send the Robinsons pictures and news of them. The female dog was adopted by a service in Alabama that trained her to be a therapy dog.

The Robinsons kept one of the puppies and named him Hobie.
“I don’t think I would have made it through Dante’s passing if it hadn’t been for these dogs,” Robinson said. “I feel like Dante is back with me through Hobie.”

CPR always has about 20 to 24 dogs available for adoption, housing them in foster homes and in a kennel at the horse farm of Carla Brown, a Gwinnett County State Court judge who founded CPR 10 years ago, in April 2009.

Brown said the Robinsons are “amazing.”

“They really threw themselves into the organization in a way I know they didn’t intend to do, and they really went into it with their whole heart,” she said.

CPR is all-volunteer and privately funded through donations. It’s a “a tiny rescue that does huge things,” including taking on large cases that some national rescues have turned their backs on, Brown said.

She then shared one of her organization’s mantras. “Saving one dog will not change the world,” Brown said, “but for that dog, the world will change forever.”

Second-hand savior

Furkids serves thousands of animals each year in what they say is the largest cage-free, no-kill shelter in the Southeast for rescued cats and at Sadie’s Place, a no-kill shelter for dogs.

The group subsists on donations and with proceeds from its thrift stores, including a 9,000-square-foot store in Peachtree Corners that sells a wide variety of donated, gently used, merchandise.

Samantha Shelton, the group’s founder and CEO and a Peachtree Corners resident, is grateful to her community for supporting the thrift store since 2007.

“It’s been a tremendous source of revenue to support our program and to help us save lives,” Shelton said. “Every time you donate an item from your home or come shopping with us, you’re truly saving an animal’s life.”

Furkids has rescued and altered more than 30,000 animals since its founding in 2002. About 1,000 animals are in the program today in Furkids shelters, PetSmart and Petco adoption centers and more than 400 foster homes.

Last year, Furkids bought nine acres in Cumming, at 5235 Union Hill Road, to consolidate its shelters onto one property. Also last year, the group launched its “TransFur” transport service, taking rescue animals from kill shelters across Georgia to no-kill shelters in Northern states, where there is high demand for adoptable animals. So far, 1,300 cats and dogs have been transported, Shelton said.

“We’ve done some amazing life-saving throughout metro Atlanta and all across Georgia and it’s really because of the community support that we’ve been able to save as many lives as we’ve been able to,” Shelton said. “We’re excited for the future.”

Learn More Here

Canine Pet Rescue — P.O. Box 248, Lawrenceville, Ga. 30046, 1-855-435-7473, caninepetrescue.com.

Furkids Thrift Store — 4015 Holcomb Bridge Road, Suite 400, Peachtree Corners, Ga. 30092, 770-817-1405, furkids.org. Furkids’ cat shelter is just outside Peachtree Corners at 2650 Pleasantdale Road. Its dog shelter is in Alpharetta at 1520 Union Hill Road. Furkids also has thrift stores in Marietta and Lawrenceville. ■

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Pets & Animals

Pets and Their People 2021: Fun Stories

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Hollie McCoy, with daughter Quinn and Teddi. Photo by George Hunter.

If you have the privilege of knowing a true-blue pet lover, you may grow a little weary from hearing about how sweet, special, smart and sassy that person’s perfect prince or princess is. And if you happen to have a pet and can’t think of anyone in your life that talks your ear off about their precious friend, then chances are you are the guilty party. But why wouldn’t you?

Dawn Gartin with Carly. Photo by George Hunter.

As the writer of this piece, I definitely call myself out. Play some Where’s Waldo in the Pet Gallery and see if you can find me and my fur-son Snoopy posing for the camera at my May wedding.

Rylee and Bexley with mom Danna Gemer Tresser. Photo by George Hunter.

Pets add color and love to our lives when often the world seems gray and cold. So bragging about these wonderful companions is natural and well-deserved.

That’s what our annual Pets and Their People Giveaway is all about. Congrats to our three lucky winners who received all kinds of goodies from our great local sponsors.

■ The grand prize of a $150 gift card for Pet Suites of America, a $150 gift card for Pet Wants plus a $125 VISA gift card went to Hollie McCoy, @hollie.mccoy.
■ The second prize of a $100 gift card for Peach Paws Animal Hospital, a $25 gift card for Lazy Dog Restaurant plus a $100 VISA gift card went to Dawn Gartin, @dawngartin.
■ The third prize of a $100 gift card for Pet Suites, a $25 gift card for Lazy Dog Restaurant plus a $75 VISA gift card went to Danna Gemer.

A new Teddi bear

Quinn is 6 years old and has wanted a dog ever since she could talk. She loves dogs! My husband and I both travel for work so we didn’t want to get a dog for a while. Quinn is an only child and kept asking for a dog, so we finally told her we would get her one by the end of this year.

Quinn was on the swim team this summer with the Spalding Corner Sharks. The county meet was held at Georgia Tech in July. We told Quinn if she won first place in the backstroke, we would go ahead and get her a dog. Well, she won first place in the county meet!

She was so excited that she won and was getting her very own dog. Mom started looking a different breeders and decided on the cutest mini goldendoodle in Ohio, then flew there to pick up the most adorable little girl puppy that looks just like a stuffed Teddy bear. She did so good on her first Delta flight.

Quinn and the puppy both fell in love during their first meeting. We decided to name her Teddi! They have been inseparable ever since.
— Hollie McCoy, Grand Prize Giveaway winner

The foster “failure”

I have been involved with dog rescue for many years and have fostered lots of dogs. Bexley was another foster and although they are all amazing, she was special! She’s laid back, friendly, sweet and just all around a great dog. She fits perfectly with our family. I just couldn’t imagine giving her up! So she became our failed foster.

Bexley’s favorite activity is to sun bath on the deck. Her other favorite activity is to get belly rubs. Bexley is generally really good but she’s a hunter, so she brought us a few “gifts.” I know it’s her instinct but it’s so gross!

Some of Bexley’s best traits are that she loves other dogs and since I’m a pet sitter and I foster dogs, that’s really important. She’s a lover and a snuggler! If we sit on the couch she has to sit half on the couch and half on a person. My husband calls her “Bexleaner” because she leans on us on the couch. Her best trait is that she’s so laid back, which is perfect for our family. She goes everywhere with us, from road trips to soccer games, because she is so easy going. What can I say? She’s perfect.
— Danna Gemer, Third Prize Giveaway winner

Totally tortoise

Penelope (@pthesulcatatortoise) is a creature of love! She was a Valentine’s gift that my husband and I made each other. We both love turtles and tortoises, and when we saw on Facebook that Penelope was in need of a new home, we quickly decided to jump in.

Fun fact: Penelope hatched one day after our 6-year wedding anniversary in July 2017.

Nestled into a little plastic container, on top of a heating pad and surrounded by St. Augustine grass and dried flowers, Penelope made the long journey from Texas to Georgia in a FedEx Reptile Shipping box, right into our Peachtree Corners home. And, as we’re talking about a turtle who doesn’t value speed over everything else, she arrived a day late, on February 15.

Can you believe she only weighed 124 grams then? Now, at the “toddler” age of four years — and after many meals consisting of grass, weeds, hay, dandelion leaves, prickly pear cactus and hibiscus flowers — she reached 45 pounds. And like all Sulcata tortoises, she will grow her whole, and hopefully long, life, which can last 100 years or more!

She likes taking walks in our neighborhood where she has become a true celebrity! People walking or even driving by stop to take pictures of her and ask questions. Penelope makes people smile. Many people of all ages have said she “made their day.”
— Daniela Britton

The happy Odd Couple about town

Cocoa is our 8-year-old Teacup Poodle. Cocoa was born on my birthday, and she has been part of our family since she was seven weeks old. My wife calls Cocoa my ‘second wife’ in the way she constantly stays in my presence from the time I enter our home until I go out again. I recently retired, so Cocoa is in bliss because of me being home most of the day now.

Her funny moment is how when we leave the house, she perches on top of the couch back until we return. Over the years when we travel, Cocoa has had the pleasure of being boarded with her parents Nemo and Blondie at our cousin’s home, who gifted Cocoa to us.

I must be the laughing joke of our Wyntree subdivision as I, a 250 lb. musclebound former running back, eagerly walk our 4-pound Teacup Poodle daily. What a sight!
— Allen Lawrence

Brewing up love

We ran across an article in a magazine about the Leonberger and fell in love with the breed. Brewski is our fifth Leo; we have a fourth, Killian, as well, but he has hip issues, so we are not able to bring him places.

Our Leos are so laid back and calm. Brewski is a big hit at a lot of the local breweries that have popped up and allow dogs to join their owners. He is an instant conversation starter because of his size, but he is also very sweet and loves to meet other dogs. Throughout the year we will bring him up to the Town Center on a cool evening, the kids love come by and pet him, and we also enjoy answering the multitude of questions that come with having a dog of his size! He is truly a Gentle Giant.
— Connie Kane

Going to microbreweries is Brewski’s favorite activity — a German dog that loves breweries, shocking! There are usually lots of people and lots of dogs to keep him entertained. He has visited Cultivation, Anderby, Kettlerock, StillFire, Six Bridges, Truck and Tap, Social Fox and Tucker Brewery.
— Michael Kane

Lawson the Lizard King

Lawson is a reptile enthusiast. He has always loved catching creatures since he could walk and talk. Recently, he added two new pets to his reptile collection. Kiwi is a Sulcata tortoise and a lifelong friend since she can live up to a 100+ years. Stuart, his crested gecko, is his latest addition that he purchased at Repticon.

Lawson’s favorite thing to do is go herping (searching for reptiles and amphibians) with his best friend, Tristan. They even have started their own YouTube page, Global Reptiles! We can’t wait to see what pet reptile he adds to his growing collection!
— Heather Parton

Who rescued who?

Our two rescue dogs, Spencer and Daisy, are so loved by our family! Spencer is originally from Tennessee, and we adopted him after he was brought to Massachusetts through the Operation Roger program (truckers bringing rescue dogs to the Northeast). He has now lived in Massachusetts, Georgia, New Hampshire and then back to Georgia!

Daisy was surrendered when she was 5 years old because she was “too loving”. My wife brought her home first as a foster and she never left…we figured how bad could a loving dog be? Well, Daisy is definitely “too loving,” but she completed our family of five. Although they avoid water at all costs, Spencer and Daisy love to go on walks, car rides and explore Simpsonwood with us!
— Kevin Hilson

An ever-growing pack

We have always been big advocates for rescue animals and always seem to gravitate towards the pup with the hardest life, starting with the adoption of our dog Hudson in 2008. When we decided it was time for a second dog, we chose to adopt a puppy since Hudson didn’t seem to like most other adult dogs.

In November 2018, we went into Lifeline Animal Project’s Dekalb Shelter (@lifelineanimalproject) to meet our new puppy, Hank. While we were spending time with him in the shelter’s family visitation room, I could see across the hall into a run of kennels.

A huge, handsome block-headed Pitbull was in the kennel next to the window — sitting quietly, staring at us. He was so stoic and regal. I commented on how gorgeous he was, but we quickly reminded ourselves that Hudson would not be accepting of another adult male dog.
We continued our visit, this big guy watching us the whole time. For months after that, the image of the beautiful black Pitbull at the shelter crossed my mind more than a few times.

Several months later, in March 2019, we brought Hank and Hudson to the Rescue Dog Games at Piedmont Park. My friend who runs Little Donkey Supply had a tent set up. While we were checking out her tent, a foster mom with Lifeline was walking her new foster dog, the same handsome black dog I still remembered from the shelter months prior! I knew it was him the moment I saw him.

We absolutely never intended to have more than two dogs, but we all marveled at the situation and agreed it was a sign. Since all the dogs seemed to get along very well at the park, we made arrangements for the new guy to come to our house and spend time with Hudson and Hank in their environment.

Two weeks later we had adopted our third rescue dog: Henry. We learned that he had spent nearly a year in the shelter before Miss Margery took him in as a foster. He suffered significant trauma before he found his way to the shelter as evidenced by significant scarring on his neck and face and a partially missing left ear.

We had to give him extra special love and grace as he adjusted to living in a home with a family. He’s definitely been a handful at times, but we know, without a doubt, he was meant to find us and become part of our family.
— Heather Reich

Zac attack and the bus brigade

Back in January of 2012 a sweet neighbor named Jo Ann Warner called me to say there was a beautiful Lab at Dekalb Animal Control in need of adoption. We had lost our chocolate Lab, Taz, a few months earlier. He was also a rescue and the best dog; we were devastated when he died.

Jo Ann convinced me to go at least meet Zac, so we headed over to animal control. When they brought Zac out, he was carrying a tennis ball, and to this day that is his favorite toy. He always has one in his mouth or nearby.

Zac had been picked up by the dog catcher and appeared to have been on the run for a while. He was missing a toe and had bullets from a BB gun in his chest. He was young, our vet guessed him to be around a year old, and a rare breed of Lab — technically a white Lab, not yellow. He was about 85 pounds at the time, but quickly grew to about 105 once he had a safe home and regular meals.

Zac loves walks, dropping his tennis ball in our pool, trips to our beach house “Z’s by the Sea” in Hilton Head, and the couch we got for him in our bedroom. He is devoted to his family, our two other rescue dogs, and to anyone who will pet him.

Zac rarely gets into trouble, but when he was younger, he did tend to eat things he shouldn’t, most notably underwear. He once pooped out a pair of my daughter’s panties while we were standing at the bus stop. It definitely wasn’t his finest moment…but highly entertaining to all the kids and parents standing there waiting on the school bus!
— Cindy Zetzsche

Visit the full Pets and their People Giveaway 2021 Gallery!

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Pets & Animals

Pets and Their People 2021: Gallery

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Pets & Animals

Gwinnett offers Adoption Specials during Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month

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Gwinnett County is celebrating Adopt-A-Shelter Dog Month throughout October with a variety of adoption specials to help residents find their new best friend.

All month long, adoption fees will be waived on all pets for those who wear their favorite sports apparel to the Bill Atkinson Animal Welfare Center, an open admissions shelter. Additional adoption specials throughout the month include fees waived for dogs over 25 pounds and fees waived on all pets every Friday.

Adoption fees are always waived for pets that have been at the shelter more than 30 days and senior pets who are 7 years old or older.

 “October is the perfect time to show support for your favorite team and expand your family with a pet from the shelter,” said Gwinnett Animal Welfare and Enforcement Manager Alan Davis. “It doesn’t matter if you’re team cat or team dog, shelter pets are a great addition to your team.”

Pets adopted from the center have been vaccinated, received spay/neuter services, are microchipped and are ready to join their new family.

Adoptions are available on a first come, first served basis. For more information about Gwinnett Animal Welfare and Enforcement, including regular adoption fees and hours, visit GwinnettAnimalWelfare.com and follow on Facebook @GwinnettAnimalShelter.

The Animal Welfare Center is located at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville.

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