AC Pup: Now-empty shelter marks end of an era

It’s funny how life works. My very first job was at the pound in Macon. I worked with my dad, Van VanDeWalker. My dad was an animal control officer with the Macon pound, and I was his sidekick. After being found on the brink of death as a tiny puppy, I was brought back to life and started my work as the mascot of the animal advocacy group Central Georgia CARES.

At the time, CARES was the nonprofit animal partner with Macon Animal Control, and I was the CARES mascot. CARES, Macon Animal Control and I made incredible strides in promoting animal welfare in Macon. In fact, CARES worked hand-in-hand with Macon Animal Control in traveling to Atlanta to be trained in combating animal cruelty. We then came back to Macon and held community seminars to teach the public and law enforcement about the prevalence of organized dog fighting in Middle Georgia, the signs to look for and the methods to eliminate it.

One of the most amazing things CARES did was raise enough money to tear down the barbaric gas chamber at the shelter and totally pay all the expenses to build the new medical room fully equipped for whatever needed to be done.

Then CARES relentlessly promoted the adoption of homeless animals and developed relationships with rescue groups in the Northeast that were eager to adopt our pets from the pound. So many lives were saved by our efforts.

And even more lives were saved when my dad, who was interim director at Macon Animal Control, met Shane Smith. Mr. Shane proposed the first animal pardon ever in the entire country. That means for whatever length of time the pardon takes place, no pet can be euthanized.

My dad agreed, and CARES was on board to help as well. So the first pardon to ever take place in our nation was signed by my dad and Mr. Shane right here in Macon. The pardon was a tremendous success in saving a ton of lives.

So it was only fitting when it was learned the current animals in the old shelter would not be moving to the new building and that a pardon was needed to save those pets. Once again, Mr. Shane and my dad came to the rescue.

They began a pardon at the Macon pound Feb. 4 and adopted or transferred out 145 fantastic pets. This past Tuesday, Snickers was the last dog to ever strut out of the shelter into freedom.

So after all the years of my dad, CARES and me working with Macon Animal Control, the doors are finally locked. We’re so thankful we were able to help save so many lives and help so many people with their pets. We’re really grateful we were able to make such a positive impact on Macon. It was phenomenal.

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