By: MARIE LAMBACHER
Background on Shelter
ACWORTH, Ga. — Melissa King and Geoff Resnik are the founders and owners of Your New Best Friend Pet Rescue.
The rescue, located in Acworth, Georgia, opened in September 2015. King and Resnik were inspired to open a shelter after seeing a homeless dog’s photo on Facebook and a trip to Gulf World Marine Park.
It appears that registering and obtaining a license to open a shelter with the Department of Agriculture might be the easiest part of the process.
King and Resnick spend approximately $4,000 per month out of their own pocket to care for the dogs at the shelter. Some of that cost relates to food, water, rental of the shelter and medical care for the dogs.
Many of the dogs at the shelter require medication for diseases like worms, phenomena and other illnesses. Some dogs require more extensive medical treatment such as surgery or even amputation of limbs due to injuries they receive while with neglectful owners or after being abandoned.
Challenges of Running a Shelter
Money is not the only challenge King and Resnik face; however, time is another huge challenge.
“I spend 16 plus hours a day taking care of the dogs. It is hard to find volunteers who are consistent,” King said.
The shelter is currently home to 18 dogs. However, Your New Best Friend Pet Rescue has partnered with another rescue, The Animal Rescue League of North Georgia, to expand its efforts.
The Animal Rescue League of North Georgia has access to farm land where they are able to house more rescue dogs. Combined, both organizations house and care for approximately 60 dogs until they are adopted out.
According to the Georgia Homeless Pets’ website, “In the Atlanta area alone, there are more than 100,000 animals destroyed each year for lack of a home.”
The homeless pet problem in Georgia is caused by a multitude of factors. One is the lack of understanding by prospective pet owners regarding the amount of time and effort it requires to own a dog.
Homeless Pet Problem in Georgia
“It is a 15-year commitment.” King said.
Also, it is costly to own a dog. According to a report by Money Under 30, “The total first-year cost of owning a dog is $1,270.”
This number can be increased if your dog has any medical issues, needs expensive grooming, requires special food or so on.
Another contributor to Georgia’s homeless dog population is that dogs have not been spayed or neutered. Although there may be some exceptions, the general reason for this is that owners do not want to incur the cost or inconvenience to spay or neuter their dog.
This not only causes overpopulation, but it can also have life-threatening consequences for the dog. Neglecting to spay or neuter can eventually lead to ovarian and testicular cancer in the dog in addition to putting litters at risk of similar health issues.
Helping Local Shelters
Many people want to help their local shelters but aren’t sure how. Monetary donations are only one method of helping a shelter.
Another way to help is to donate your time. Many shelters need help carrying out simple daily tasks such as feeding the dogs, cleaning out their crates, letting the dogs outside or walking and playing with them. Another task is that of holding and handling puppies.
Doing this helps them get accustomed to humans and aids in socializing them, making interaction with their future, permanent family that much easier. It will also help them to be healthier and happier dogs.
Pat Fitzgerald has been a volunteering since 2008 at multiple shelters, such as Atlanta Humane Society, Atlanta Lab Rescue and Atlanta Pet Rescue and Adoption.
“The most rewarding part of volunteering at a pet shelter is the unconditional love they show you just for giving them a little attention, watching personalities evolve, helping them become more adoptable pets and seeing them get forever homes,” Fitzgerald said.