Dog fighting, animal neglect, backyard breeding: all touchy, disheartening subjects. But luckily, there are plenty of feel-good stories in the form of organizations working tirelessly to combat these issues.
One of these is Animal Rescue Assistance, a two-year-old organization that aims to reduce the number of unwanted pets through educational spay/neuter programs and financial assistance (when necessary) to those who need to re-home their pets or rescued pets. Its other component is Atlanta Bully Rescue (ABR), a nonprofit, 501c3 shelter that takes in pit bull and bully breeds and/or finds foster and permanent homes for them.
The organization was started in East Atlanta by Eric and Whitney Horne, and while the headquarters (the Hornes’ home) has moved to South Atlanta, they still do a lot of work in the East Atlanta Village.
“Our biggest focus is education and spaying/neutering,” said Whitney Horne, who has been involved in rescue organizations for the past 10 years.
The reason is simple. If there weren’t so many irresponsible owners breeding their dogs, there wouldn’t be as many dogs euthanized every single day and without homes.
Eric Horne put it best on a blog he wrote after ABR rescued a female pit bull from an owner who couldn’t care for her after she nearly died from giving birth (it was his choice to breed her): Just because you think your dog is awesome doesn’t mean for a second you should breed them. Do you know how many awesome dogs there are that are going to be euthanized tomorrow because there is simply no room for them?
“Pit bulls are the most popular dog to breed and they’re also the most commonly abused,” Whitney Horne said.
“Many people get them and chain them up in the backyard and they’re never socialized. They don’t have fresh water or the preventive medicines they need. Most are owned by teenage boys or young adults.”
When Animal Rescue Assistance/ABR notices or receives word that dogs are being mistreated in the area, their first move is to approach the owner with information about spaying/neutering and unchaining the dog(s). They often refer the owner(s) to the Coalition to Unchain Dogs.
If the situation doesn’t improve and the dog(s) needs to be taken away from the owner, ABR will contact the Fulton County or Dekalk Country Animal Control as a last resort.
But sadly, the shelter can stay full with strays that are just found on the street or abandoned somewhere.
“The pit bull we found in the worst condition is named Sadie,” Horne said. “We found her abandoned in a dog park in the worst shape ever, covered in blood, emaciated and with infections. But she has come such a long way; she looks great and is so sweet. She’s been up for adoption for about a year and we really want to find her a good home.”
Sadie is proof that bully breeds with abusive pasts can become wonderful pets with the care and socialization that ABR provides. Daily activities for the dogs include hiking, swimming and skateboarding with Eric Horne (well, the dogs run alongside him).
“A lot of times, people think pit bulls are just fight dogs or were used as bait dogs [for dog fights] but usually they’re just neglected," Whitney Horne said.
As far as educating the community on these issues, Animal Rescue Assistance starts young. They’ve spoken to the about dog ownership and reporting stray dogs, and have brought in the rescued dogs and shown the kids fun activities to do with them. The East Atlanta Kids Clubbers even decorate the adoption bags that are given to new owners of ABR dogs.
The organization holds or participates in various fundraising events throughout the year (they are a beneficiary of the upcoming ) and receives most of its funding from individual donations.
But the best way someone can help is to give one of these sweet pups a good home.