ATLANTA (AP) – A nationwide program is providing aid to pet owners in low-income neighborhoods to reduce the number of animals sent to shelters.
The Pets for Life programs provide free or low-cost animal medical services, supplies and food to clients in at least 27 locations, including Atlanta.
“To care for a dog or a cat it’s kind of expensive and it’s almost like caring for a child. When you want to care for them right,” says Carmen Webb-Davis, Atlanta, Georgia Resident.
The Humane Society United States originally launched the program in 2010. It arrived in Atlanta in 2012 and has been run by Atlanta’s LifeLine Animal Project since 2017.
“Pets For Life is a wonderful program. Our goal is to keep every animal that comes into the shelter, we want to see them leave alive and go into a loving home and to bring the number down that are coming in in the first place. Pets For Life goes out, four days a week, knocks on doors and just introduces themself. They have a big van, which I’m sure you saw. Ask people if they have pets. How they can help them. If they need anything,” says Karen Hirsch, Lifeline Animal Project.
Animal welfare advocates say many pet owners give up their dogs and cats to shelters because they can no longer afford to care for them.
“They help me with food. They help me with, um, shots and records and if I didn’t have that economically in between jobs or just the little jobs that I have had it would have been a burden,” continues Webb-Davis.
The Shelters Animal Count database estimates those animals represent about 25% of shelter populations. Strays make up the majority.