Three years ago, I was abandoned on a winter night, rescued by Macon Animal Control on the brink of death, then taken in and restored to health. Shortly afterward, my parents, Van and Tracie VanDeWalker, and my Aunt Patti Jones of Central Georgia CARES, persuaded me to devote my life to promoting animal welfare.
So we set out on a mission to encourage spay and neuter, save lives through marketing my pound pals, implement humane education in our schools and change our animal shelter and community from the mentality that euthanasia is an effective form of population management. After all, euthanizing healthy animals because there are too many dogs that look alike or because we need space didnt appear to be the method an intellectual, civilized community would choose.
We worked for years, attending more than 100 community events, teaching about 2,000 kids in Bibb County schools, repeatedly appearing in the media, on billboards, in magazine articles and newspapers. We also raised money for the shelter. We did this all to help animals no one previously cared about.
We simultaneously conducted research to find more humane, effective ways to manage a municipal shelter. We studied different models used in progressive communities. We talked with experienced, educated animal welfare people across the country. We were devoted to converting our shelter philosophy from the obsolete, antiquated method of mass elimination of healthy animals to one where the community participated in alternative methods to save them.
And to say we were able to gain community support is an incredible understatement. My hometown responded in magnificent fashion and showed that Macon is filled with concerned citizens ready for a change in how this community treat our animals. We proved that when CARES led the way in passing the SPLOST for a new shelter.
We showed methods that worked in other communities could work in Macon. In fact, we proved it both times my dad, Van VanDeWalker, served in a leadership role at the shelter when we were able to save significant numbers of animals instead of snuffing out lives.
We were able to do this while we still answered animal control calls from the public. We demonstrated it can be done, and we brought positive national attention to Macon. We were proud.
But, unfortunately, the decision has been made to return to the old model of collecting animals into the shelter and disposing of them after an allotted amount of time. Im afraid my dad and I cannot support this decision because we know theres a better way. But its not the animals fault theyre caught in this situation, so I will continue to promote them and try to save them.
Although were cleaning out our office at 1010 11th St., Ill always be the mascot for Central Georgia CARES. Well continue to promote animals at shelters in surrounding counties, and well continue to support rescue groups who help save lives. We know youll stand with us.
Send questions for AC Pup to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.acpup.com or see his Facebook page.