Hello all- we spent two years with our last charity and decided it was time to move on and give a shot to the arm to a new team, and I am proud to introduce Athenspets!
I’ve spoken at length with their point of contact, Lisa, and let me tell you, the pets are in good hands and under solid leadership with a dedicated volunteer pool. We think that our calendar money (which does not get there until February or March, remember), will provide a nice bit of money for them to expand their operations and to have an emergency fund, much like what was needed for Artie.
At any rate, please read the post below and help welcome Athenspets to Balloon Juice. Baud, keep your pants on, we have company.
Athenspets is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to helping the neediest animals in the Athens (GA) area and the people who love them.
Athenspets started as an informal website in 2001 to promote the animals at Athens-Clarke County Animal Services, then a municipal shelter that euthanized approximately 70% of the dogs that were impounded. The publicity greatly improved things, so that with little else changing, approximately 80% or more of the shelter dogs were being reclaimed, adopted, or transferred to rescue groups by the 2010s. The cat situation, though, remained dire; from the time the county began running a cat shelter in 2011, more than 50% of the impounded cats did not make it out alive.
In 2015, Athenspets was incorporated and became a public charity. Volunteers raised funds to start a medical program for the shelter, treating animals with injuries and illnesses rather than leaving them to be euthanized. We also developed a spay/neuter program that both strategically altered shelter animals to improve the outcomes of all of the shelter animals (for example, selecting female animals that were in heat to reduce the associated behavioral problems in all of the animals) and narrowly targeted the owned animals in the community that were at highest risk of adding to pet overpopulation in our area.
Despite the incredibly high poverty rate in Athens, where more than 30% of permanent residents live below the poverty line, the community responded to these efforts. By 2019, the last year in which all medical treatment for the shelter animals was overseen by volunteers and funded by donations, the live release rates for the shelter animals had put the shelter on the verge of “no kill” status (which recognizes that open admission municipal shelters will always euthanize some animals since they are legally required to impound whether or not the animal is vicious or terminally ill or injured, and regardless of whether there is space available).
In late 2019, Athenspets led an effort to overhaul the shelter: to bring in new, progressive management and see that the county funded the shelter at an appropriate level. This effort was successful, and many of the programs Athenspets had set up and taken responsibility for running and funding were transferred to the county. The shelter is now considered a model for Southern open-admission municipal shelters thanks to these efforts.
Because of these changes, Athenspets was able to move to focusing on keeping animals in good, even if impoverished, homes, reducing future pet overpopulation, and simply being volunteers, while still funding the extraordinary medical expenses of shelter animals, like Raven’s dog, Artie.
Each year, we cover the cost of spaying/neutering, vaccinating, and microchipping more than 500 owned and community animals. We designed and ran an innovative Community Innovations program in 2020-2021, working to change pet care norms in the neighborhood in Athens that most disproportionately produces dogs that are euthanized at the shelter because of prior physical and social neglect.
Funds donated to Athenspets go 100% towards our programs; we have no office space, paid employees, or other overhead costs.