The Etowah Valley Humane Society is at it again, having recently launched the first Homeless Pets Club in the nation, a Harvard University-based grant with the goal of significantly reducing the euthanasia rate in metro Atlanta.
Originally created by Michael Goode, a noted veterinarian from Marietta, the Homeless Pet Club program is an endeavor to get school children and ultimately their parents and guardians involved in the pursuit of finding families for homeless animals.
“What the clubs will do is sponsor animals at the local shelter, and use their resources and contacts to work to get those animals adopted,” said Etowah Valley Humane Society Director Bryan Canty. “Once that pet is adopted, the kids choose another to sponsor.”
As part of the program, the new families of the adopted pets will bring the animals by the school for the children to meet so they can see what they’ve accomplished.
“This helps build self esteem and educate the kids on responsible pet ownership and it raises awareness of the problem at a young age,” said Canty.
South Central Middle school was the first to start a Homeless Pet Club in Bartow County. Teachers at Cartersville Middle School, Cartersville High School and Cass Middle School very recently followed suit and sponsored clubs at their schools as well.
“Initially we want to have a Homeless Pet Club in each school but it would be great to have one in each grade at each school,” said Canty. “This isn’t limited to schools either—anywhere there is a concerned group. Anyone can start a Homeless Pet Club at churches, offices, stores, anywhere.”
So what is the benefit to promoting pet ownership and homeless pet adoption in Cartersville's schools and beyond?
According to Canty, wellness studies have shown that people who get involved with animals or who own pets have an overall better total wellness, including lower blood pressure and lower rates of depression.
“It makes sense to get the kids involved because they are the next generation of pet owners. When you get the kids and their schools involved, you get the parents as well, and it promotes a sense of overall accomplishment,” said Canty. “We can never deviate from the reason why we exist, and that’s to prevent suffering and find homes for these homeless pets.”
At a rate of 65 percent, Bartow County has the highest incident of euthanasia, meaning that one in three animals taken in by Animal Control will be put to sleep. Animal control currently takes in about 6,000 animals per year.
“We’re hoping for mass adoptions through these pet clubs,” said Canty. “There will be incentives for the children involved. They can raise money to donate to the shelter and they can come up with clever names for their individual Homeless Pet Clubs. The Atlanta Braves are part of this initiative and there will be days they can bring their pets to the games. This is bigger than what’s just going in the schools but it has to start somewhere and it makes sense to get the kids on board. What we really need right now are more teachers who will volunteer to sponsor Homeless Pet Clubs.”
To find out how to sponsor a Homeless Pet Club in your school, or to donate contact the Etowah Valley Humane Society at 770–383–3338 or visit its website. Also visit www.homelesspets.com/clubs.phd for more information.