Homeless Pet Club kicks off with Macon bike tour

lfabian@macon.comNovember 1, 2012 

The bike tour to launch Macon’s new Homeless Pet Club did not even get rolling Thursday morning before the first dog was adopted.

Dodger, a black and gray rescue dog, will have a new home with Geico worker Ashley Thomley.

“I’ve been looking for an Australian shepherd, and look at his beautiful eyes,” Thomley said. “He has one blue one and one brown one.”

Enlisting businesses, schools and community organizations to help find homes for abandoned pets is the newest mission for animal advocacy group Central Georgia CARES.

The temperature dropped to 39 degrees Thursday morning, but CARES’ mascot AC Pup and his entourage got a warm welcome at Geico on Ocmulgee East Industrial Boulevard.

Breakfast nibbles for humans as well as dog biscuits were spread out on tables in the parking lot. An aluminum tray of water for canine consumption was on the asphalt.

CARES board member and avid cyclist Jeff Battcher left from the insurance company shortly after 9:30 a.m. and wheeled across Macon on a tour of some of the Homeless Pet Club’s charter members.

“I don’t think there’s anything more important than trying to tell everybody ... there are a lot of animals, dogs and cats that can be adopted -- purebred dogs that are sitting in shelters about to be euthanized,” Battcher said. “If we can start these Homeless Pet Clubs, free of charge, and get pets adopted, that’s what’s important.”

Battcher plans another tour across Georgia in the spring and wants to pedal his way from Denver to Macon next fall to encourage more people to sign up for clubs.

Veterinarian Michael Good founded Homeless Pet Clubs near Atlanta several years ago after being sickened by the number of adoptable animals that are euthanized -- about 200,000 each year in the metro Atlanta area, he said.

“I saw the sadness, the amount of dogs and cats that were perfectly healthy being put to sleep, and it really just saddened me as an animal lover,” Good said.

He recently signed up 55,000 Atlanta Girl Scouts for Homeless Pet Clubs.

But it’s Central Georgia CARES that is pushing the clubs to the next level in the business community, he said.

“There’s a million reasons why people should have pets,” Good said. “They bring so much to our lives.”

Geico’s Kennel Club already helps local rescue groups but is now an official Homeless Pet Club. All clubs will take on an adoptable animal and work to find a suitable owner. They will celebrate the adoption with a party and then take on another homeless animal. Rabbi Larry Schlesinger, a Macon city councilman, addressed the crowd before the tour began.

He acknowledged the city’s struggle with unwanted animals.

“So many are put down for no reason at all, and that’s a trend we must reverse,” Schlesinger said.

A Macon police car escorted Battcher and a few CARES cars to stop at the charter members of Homeless Pet Clubs.

With AC Pup’s ears flapping in the breeze through an open window, the caravan stopped at Lawrence Mayer Florist, the National Criminal Defense College, The Telegraph’s newsroom at the Center for Collaborative Journalism at Mercer University, Westside High School, Stratford Academy and Ahn’s Tae Kwon Do.

Patti Jones, executive director of CARES, said the Homeless Pet Clubs give everyone a way to help find homes for strays even if the animal lovers in the clubs don’t have room themselves.

“Our community, we’re all responsible for these animals, and this is a way everybody can take part in being part of the solution,” Jones said.

To request information about starting a club, contact Jones at (478) 746-9401 or at CARES Homeless Pet Club on Facebook.

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

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