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Rescuing and Fostering Pets in DeKalb County

Sharing experiences about fostering and rescuing lost or abandoned cats and dogs in DeKalb County.

My wife and I are primarily cat lovers. Over the years we have been responsible for finding forever homes for about 15 cats that we have rescued in DeKalb County.

While the experience has been rewarding, it has also been expensive considering the vet bills, food, medicine, and some damage to our personal property. We have had to sacrifice in other ways, for example, not traveling as much as we'd like and waking up at 3AM to the sound of cats using the litter box.

However we know we have it easy compared to the other foster and rescue people who have saved animals from their fate at the DeKalb Animal Shelter. We'd like to hear more about other people who have made similar and greater sacrifices in the name of saving lives.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Wardell Castles September 14, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Jody, your post gets to the problem of animal control in DeKalb County. No-Kill shelters such as Liefeline fill up and can't take any more animals. The DeKalb Animal Shelter can continue to take pets in because they are a high-kill "shelter". What DeKalb Animal Shelter needs to do is increase their adoption rate by, among other things, education and publicity. Another major factor is offering free or very inexpensive spay/neuter services to cut down on the number of stray animals that people like us have to end up fostering and finding homes for. Nothing short of a multi-pronged approach to animal control is going to address the problem.
Nancy Wilkinson September 14, 2012 at 04:12 PM
My partner and I have taken in 12 cats and 5 dogs over the past 25 years from parking lots, individuals who couldn't keep them, neighborhood strays and animal rescue groups. None of them have been re-homed, they all ended up staying to live out long pampered lives with us. We tried fostering once and failed miserably - we agreed to foster a young Springer Spaniel rescued by English Springer Rescue America from Fulton County animal control. We survived as foster parents for a full 2 hours (only because we couldn't email the adoption application from the car.) The little guy lucked out with us - he had severe hip dysplasia and ended up getting a hip replacement at UGA for his first Christmas gift from us. He's an active happy dog now.
Sonali Saindane September 21, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Part One: I started rescue work as a graduate student. I lived in an apartment complex where people would discard their cats like trash before moving. My neighbor and I would feed these cats and keep them in our little apartments when the weather got bad. We also got many of them spayed/neutered at our own expense. I was a college student then with a minimal income, so this was money spent that could have been used for other necessities. Even though I don’t consider myself a “cat person”, I did this because I felt it was the right thing to do. This was over ten years ago, but sadly, the culture of dumping animals when convenient continues.
Sonali Saindane September 21, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Part Two: Since then I’ve done various types of small rescue work including financing spay/neuter of pets that would otherwise keep having litter after litter, finding homes for dogs dumped in my neighborhood, and walking the dogs at Dekalb Animal Services. One time I even helped build a fence for a woman who chained up her three dogs. My friends and I tried to educate her about anti-chaining ordinances with little success. We even reported her case to DeKalb Animal Services but no one ever responded to our plea. Our best solution was to build a fence for these dogs who would otherwise be chained up for the rest of their lives. We spent our personal money and the entire weekend on this project. At the end, our time and money was worth the little improvement in the quality of life we were able to provide for these dogs. As we left we noticed that many other homes in the same neighborhood had chained up dogs…with no one to rescue them. It is truly disheartening to see the state of animal welfare in DeKalb. So many healthy and adoptable pets die every year at DeKalb Animal Services because of the volumes entering the facility and not enough being adopted.
Judy Simon September 23, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Since moving to Dunwoody 5 months ago, I have had three stray dogs come up to me while I was working in my yard. This is a good, clean neighborhood. My point is that bad things do happen to good people and to good pets. Mistakes happen. Fortunately, for me and the pets that "came to me", the owners were close and still willing to take their pets back since they love them. These owners, or any responsible owners, need to realize that I could have called the DeKalb County Animal Control to pick up their dogs. Everyone needs to go to that facility -- to see where their animal could be housed, because they made a simple mistake. It could ultimately lead to the death [yes that would be extreme, I agree] of their pets or could cause them to be exposed to disease and filth. One of the dogs that came to me was quite old. Imagine how that dog would have been impacted from exposure in the facility's current environment. My wish is that EVERYONE visit the facility and become educated about the current situation. I would encourage them to do so, and then to encourage their commissioner and CEO Ellis to move toward better conditions and ultimately a new facility. We want all pets to be safe when in the care of our county government. Whether they be owned or strays, they deserve equality--humane and decent conditions--until they can find be adopted or reach the end of their life. No, life is not always fair, but we need to be strong enough to do the best we can, as citizens.
rob September 23, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Can anyone here tell me about the Friends of Dekalb Animals charity? I would love to donate to the shelter via a group that can help, but not sure if the money will be wasted. This group has been in the news lately because of the poor dog Xena, See: http://dekalbanimals.chipin.com/xena-the-warrior-puppy Is it worthwhile to donate money directly to the Dek Co Animal Shelter? Will it be wasted or will it go to the dogs :-).
Jody Norwood September 23, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Rob, I think that Friends of DeKalb Animals is doing a really good job under really difficult conditions. I try to donate to them every month(as finances allow). I have never felt that they weren't using the money wisely. They have rescued many animals from a certain death at the hands of Animal Control.
Wardell Castles September 23, 2012 at 10:23 PM
I know the two principals of FODA (Friends of DeKalb Animals). I assure you they are top notch organizationa and donations to it are not wasted. They transport animals from the DeKalb Animal Shelter to other shelters and foster homes in the Northeast US. They are simply amazing in what they do. If you wish to donate to the shelter itself, DASE has a wish list on Amazon here. http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/D1GX1DSCZA9W/ref=cm_sw_su_w
rob September 24, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Thanks Wardell/Jody.
Carole Baker September 24, 2012 at 06:48 PM
What you have done is amazing and an inspiration for others to follow. Thank you so much. Carole
Morgan Skilling September 24, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Spay/neuter and humane education are the cornerstones to reducing the animal overpopulation. I'm from the Northeast and it is appalling to see how far behind the South is in these efforts. It has to start at the Governor's office down, to meet those of us who do grassroots work in the middle. I am the President of Atlanta Beagle Rescue and when we can we do pull from DeKalb. We are usually full though and cannot take in the numbers we would like to. Our foster homes are fantastic and we are always so grateful when someone steps up to foster a dog at DeKalb we could otherwise not take, and becomes part of the Atlanta Beagle Rescue family. What the public may not know is that an animal doesn't usually cost us just the amount of a low-cost spay/neuter. We do dentals and bloodwork and when needed x-rays and visits to specialists. Senior dogs in particular are very expensive to rescue. People actually have emailed us to say our adoption fee is too high. If all we took in were young and healthy dogs maybe it wouldn't have to be what it is. But for every $100 dog we usually have a corresponding $500 dog. For rescues, there is never enough money, never enough time (we're all volunteers!) and never enough space. We have a good relationship with DeKalb and support the staff in their efforts to make the best of a bad situation.
Lyn Hillman September 24, 2012 at 08:25 PM
I have several experiences with rescuing and getting animals from different places. I adopted a cat when the Gwinnett Humane Society couldn't take him in because it was during Halloween and apparently they wouldn't take in or adopt out black cats at that time. My boyfriend found a cat at a vacant foreclosed house and brought him home to live with us. He also took in a dog (Siberian Husky) from someone on the street - it turns out she had been adopted from Fulton County Animal Services and whoever got her turned around and dumped her on the street. These animals have been with us for at least several years and are great pets.
KitLynn September 24, 2012 at 08:43 PM
I also feel that FODA does a great job. The same gal who is fostering Xena also rescued one of my dogs from a bad hoarding situation and saved her life. I am so grateful to her for all of the rescue work she does individually and with FODA, and I think of that every time I look at my sweet little dog lying on my couch, who is now toothless because of her former treatment. She also works for Dekalb Animal Services and she introduced me to a little one-eyed, three footed cat, turned in as a cruelty case, whom I ended up adopting through Southern Animal Rescue. I know there are a LOT of problems with the DAS facility and they need to be resolved asap, for the health and well-being of both the animals and staff there. But in the meantime, I so admire and support the staff and officers that are working hard for the animals every day with the limited funds and resources. My other animals are a stray that I found on North Druid Hills 10 years ago, a dog who was abandoned in a parking lot (adopted from Animal Action Rescue), and a cat that was from the Athens Humane Society when I lived there. I will ALWAYS adopt from the shelter or from a rescue. I honestly can't believe anyone would purchase a dog when so many dogs die every day in shelters.
Stephanie Nelson September 24, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Hi Rob: I know the FODA folks directly and this is a great organization, born out of need. They work hand in hand with DAS and, tirelessly, transport animals to the northeast every weekend to ensure their safety at local shelters where great families are waiting to adopt/rescue.
tricia walker September 24, 2012 at 11:44 PM
I unfortunately or fortunately- depending how you view it- live in the same neighborhood as animal control which is an incredibly popular dumping ground for unwanted animals. I have lived here for three years, and have "rescued" 15 dogs and 1 cat. 14 of the 15 I literally did not leave my neighborhood. 2 of whom I found in my front yard, 1 of which had been shot several times (don't worry, he made a full recover and is now living out a happy life as Grifindor). I say "rescued" because I either fostered them myself, or begged, or bargained their entrance into Lifeline Animal Project or Friends to the Forlorn Pitbull Rescue. This is not something I put in the "win" category because rescues need to be careful that they do not overfill and can pay their bills at the end of the month. They are not magical entities that have endless room or money to operate, but I digress. Sadly, even though I have picked up so many, I certainly have not picked up ALL that I have seen. I routinely see strays and dead dogs on the side of the road. I rarely take my dogs for walks because I am afraid that puppies that have been left to die in the woods will follow me home, and I have run out of room at my house. I sincerely hope money will be put toward an aggressive outreach spay/nueter program. We need to educate our neighbors, and try to help- not judge.
What goes around comes around September 25, 2012 at 03:45 AM
I expect some to get upset with my comments, but I feel I have to say this, given the topic. I know someone who has always had anywhere from 2 to 4 dogs at a time. She has a nice home with a large fenced in backyard. A few years ago when she was down to 2, she attempted to adopt from well-known no kill shelters, and 'rescue' agencies. The process was more extensive than a job interview. The home inspections were ridiculous - she is a good, loving 'parent'. But she was told that since there were trees (hardwoods, pine trees and the like) bordering her property that dropped nuts and things the dogs could choke on, and that her blow-dryer had fallen off the sink that morning, that her home was unacceptable. (none of her dogs ever chewed, so it did not-until then-occur to her to pick it up immediately). If you DO adopt from them, the dog is never really yours - you have to allow them to inspect at any time and remove the animal if they see something they don't like. LIGHTEN UP and learn to pick out the good homes, and let your rescues go. If rescues can find more homes, they can take more from the no-kill shelters, and so on. I know they mean well, but....they often seem a little fanatical.
JW September 26, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I’m a DeKalb resident – bought a house about a year ago. Since then, I’ve (actively) adopted a kitten who came with an expensive illness he gave my other cat; I helped a neighbor catch a tiny feral kitten I ended up taming and keeping. I recently caught an older feral kitten I’m working to tame and get healthy so I can find her a home. I care for a stray who lives on and under my porch; as soon as she’s trusting enough, I’l l get her to the vet so she can hopefully come inside when it’s cold. I’ve caught and had 2 adult feral cats neutered, and there are 3 more who are eating on my porch I haven’t caught yet. I’ve seen 2 more on my street, so they’re in my sights, too. A word to cat owners: if your cat goes outside, put a collar on it. At best, a collarless cat may end up getting “the treatment” at Lifeline. At worst, well… I agree that a much bigger push to ALL pet owners to spay and neuter is needed. Seems like this is something the neighborhood associations could get behind and (logistically, at least) help their residents with – at least for the feral and stray dogs and cats. Maybe the county should consider raising the cost to register an unaltered animal to make it more financially advantageous to “fix” our pets. Animal Control could certainly use the extra money!
Denise Stubbs September 26, 2012 at 08:16 PM
I've lived in Dekalb 41 years. I honestly don't know how many animals I've rescued. The worst case was Dawn ( www.facebook.com/fightingfordawn ). I found her on a cold February day at the Walmart on Gresham. She was about 2, 24 lbs, 92 degree temp. She was pitiful. She was covered in mange and wounds. I was terrified that she was going to die from anemia and other conditions caused by the malnutrition. You could see that she had lived on a chain and been repeatedly bred. She is a survivor of the cruelty that occurs daily to animals everywhere. She is now 60 lbs of pure pit bull love. Thanks to her, we are currently working on starting the Fighting for Dawn foundation. We will help rescues and animal services financially to save more animals from euthanasia.
Denise Stubbs September 26, 2012 at 08:32 PM
The second difficult dog we rescued from The same Walmart is Martin. Our family and a friend, maud, fed him for 9 weeks before finally trapping him. He is a huge baby pibble. He would run every time we got near him. Now, he never leaves my side. I've fostered many animals from DCAS for various rescues. It breaks my heart every time I go and have to leave the other 200+ animals behind. I've picked up who knows how many animals off the streets these 41 years only calling AC once because the animal was vicious. The employees are fabulous there. They do all they can do. Unfortunately, there are too many animals and they are forced to euthanize.
Feed A Fur Friend September 27, 2012 at 07:52 PM
I am very grateful to Lifeline for saving my *baby* off death's door and death row at the dekalb shelter and also truly grateful for their low cost vaccinations. B/c of them we've been able to save a few more cats we found hungry in our neighborhood and get all their shots/deworming etc. for only $40 and then take the time find them good homes. It usually takes 2- 6 months. It takes everyone working together to make a difference. We are retired but we do our part.
Sue Kautz September 28, 2012 at 12:29 PM
I started rescuing animals In Dekalb County 15 yrs ago when I moved here. My FIRST was a kitten I saw crying outside the window of Publix. After days of going back and trying to catch her I had to borrowed a have-a-heart trap. When caught, I took her screaming and flailing to the Vet. (not pleasant to have in your car! I have since learned that covering the trap with a towel or sheet will calm them down right away and they will stop banging around in the trap. She was fully vetted and spayed. The plan was to release her to a safe place, however she turned out to be friendly and I took her to an adoption event where she found her furever home. This was a LONG time ago.........to continue.........sigh......
Sue Kautz September 28, 2012 at 01:02 PM
I had friends that volunteered at Dekalb Animal Services and knew of the bleak conditions and outcomes for the animals. I knew I couldn't go there myself as I am too sensitive and thought the scene would do me in. I thought the very least I could do was go get ONE animal out of there! I went to the adoption area there and adopted a puppy to bring back to Ct where I do animal rescue small time.(part of the year I live in Ct.) I then learned of FODA and arranged with them to transport a few small shipments of dogs/puppies to me in Ct from Dekalb to be adopted out. So few animals there have any real hope of getting out alive unless a rescue takes them.The North has more available homes for animals as spay/neuter is utilized more. This was no easy task to pay for and find the right homes for these dogs while I continued to work as a Hospice nurse. Countless hours of caring for them, telephone calls and home checks. In the end they were all adopted. Those were the lucky ones.......so many are not.......sigh....... to be continued.....................
Sue Kautz October 01, 2012 at 03:54 PM
PART 1: Last year as I was driving on Memorial Dr. I saw some cars slowing ahead and one stopped. I saw 2 hysterical small children with their grandfather standing at the side of the road. I thought the worst and I was right. Their small dog had been hit and was alive but unable to use it's hind end or legs. She was crying and trying to crawl. With every howl the dog made, the 2 young girls cried too! If anyone got close to the dog to help she would snap and crawl further right back into moving traffic. I stood in the road and was trying to slow the onslaught of traffic. A police officer arrived and did little to help except to have his flashing lights alert drivers of a problem. I asked him to call Animal Control and he said, "oh, they probably wouldn't come out for something like this". He left after about 10 minutes while the grandfather and myself tried to get the dog to safety and the traffic still a threat. The grandfather and children did not speak much English, so it was hard to communicate what had happened and what he wanted to do. I told him the dog must get to a vet hospital asap. The dog was in obvious pain and shock and would not let us get near her- yet we had to get her out of the road. She had no collar or leash attached. (continued)
Sue Kautz October 01, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Part 2: I had an old sheet in my car and put it over her and the grandfather picked up a snapping, screaming dog and put her in the back of my car. I explained I was taking her to a doctor and I had him write down a phone # where he could be reached. I called ahead and took her to Dearborn Animal Hospital. The ride there was a nightmare I will never forget. With every turn and bump she cried out in pain. Blood stains remained embedded in the upholstery only to repeatedly remind me of the horror of the afternoon. I explained to the vet what had happened and asked them to keep her pain free and that I would pay for her bill to find out the severity of her injuries. After an x-ray determined her injuries could not be repaired or healed. Due to her significant pain, it was decided that euthanasia was the kindest option. Myself and the vet tried to reach the owner many times to explain the findings and see if they wanted to come say goodbye. Several messages were left over a few hours with no return call while the dog still suffered. The dog was then euthanized. This was an agonizing event I will never forget. AND KUDOS to Dearborn Hospital who is so compassionate and never charged me for that very sad visit. I shutter when I recall these memories but the grace in this story is to know that this sweet little dog did not get hit again or crawl to the side of the road to have a lingering, painful death, and that she was embraced with love and compassion in her final moments.
rob October 01, 2012 at 10:47 PM
This brings back sad memories about my dog Megan, a beautiful elkhound. I was in a local park, off leash (the only time ever, she was playing with some other dogs well away from the road), when something got her attention and she ran across Ashford Dunwoody. I ran to the top of the hill, looking down and yelled for her. I saw her across the road, coming back, and then the car hit her. She was so fast, the driver could not have stopped. She flew in the air, hit so hard. I have obvious guilt to this day (this was 11 years ago). But, she did not suffer like your little dog. She was knocked unconcsious right away, so at least God spared me the agony of her pain. It was the most awful experience and one that I hope nobody has to witness. I never have a dog off leash now for any reason unless totally fenced. Beware ALL cars - our dogs for the most part are too spoiled and not street smart.
Shelly Groves October 01, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Rob, I foster with Angels Among Us www.angelsrescue.org This group takes dogs that other rescues won't, pregnant, injured, HW+, etc. I have had the pleasure to foster 11 dogs since January, and all were a joy- knowing lives are being saved is priceless! Anyway, donations have been off lately, which prevents saving more lives. We are always looking for fosters, transporters, volunteers, etc. Thanks so much for helping!!~p.s. Isn't Xena amazing?!?!
Shelly Groves October 01, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Please do not lump all rescues together. I agree, there are some that have ridiculous requirements. But there are plenty that have realistic expectations. And once you pay, the dog IS REALLY yours.
Sue Kautz October 07, 2012 at 01:11 PM
I am so sorry for your loss so long ago but ever present in your heart. Sue
Sue Kautz October 07, 2012 at 01:54 PM
In February a friend called me to say she heard a car door slam and saw a pick-up drive away and looked out to see a 10-12 week old puppy on her lawn. She was unable to take it in and we knew the horror of DAS and NEVER would call them. I reluctantly agreed to take him for 3 days to figure out what to do with him. I had 5 dogs and 2 cats already at my house so another could be divorce material and a strain on the household. After many calls to local rescues a friend (teamwork) secured a place for him at a reputable local rescue where he had a great chance of getting a good home. One lucky dog not to end up at DAS!
Jessica Ashby January 09, 2013 at 11:05 PM
I am looking for a temporary rescue or a foster home for a sweet baby girl puppy in the DeKalb shelter. She has been there since June. During her visit there she has had such stress and anxiety that she now has a treatable skin allergy, similar to the non contagious type of mainge. I am being told she just needs to be kept somewhere to heal enough to be spade. I am live in NC, but I am going to find her a forever home. I just need her to be healed enough to have the surgery and be saved from the shelter. Please spread the word and if any of you can help or know someone who can help, just temporarily, please email me. jashby67@gmail.com Thank you in advance for your time!

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