(Featured photo is of Twilight, a dog at Augusta Animal Services, who recently went on a doggy date)
(Editor’s note: There are many organization in the area where people can foster or adopt pets. This is the first of two stories highlighting some of them. This is by no means all of them.)
Looking for a date and possibly a forever companion?
Crystal Eskola has you covered.
“Doggy Dates are a day of fun,” said the deputy director with Augusta Animal Services, of the socialization program allowing dogs a respite from the shelter. “Doggy Dates give dogs a day (or hours) out of the shelter, and it gives people a great way to volunteer.”
Eskola suggested activities for the Doggy Dates such as going to the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, walking downtown at the Sculpture Trail, enjoying an outdoor lunch and/or having a puppaccino at a local café.
“Some people just take the dog home and enjoy a relaxing day. The opportunities to get out and enjoy a Doggy Day are endless. We have a few volunteers that come with a friend and take two dogs out,” Eskola said.
And it sometimes leads to a more committed relationship – with a pet being adopted and finding its forever home.
“Many have fallen in love on the first date. We also had a guy take his Doggy Date Khaki to the canal for Canal Fest,” she said. “While there, Khaki met lots of people including his future family who made it to the shelter to adopt Khaki before Khaki did.”
Dogs can be picked up from Augusta Animal Services on Mack Lane after 11 a.m. Monday through Friday and returned by 4 p.m.
Richmond and Columbia County animal shelters as well as rescue organizations continue to come up with creative ways to help their animals find those homes.
In addition to the Doggy Dates program, Augusta Animal Services is celebrating Earth Day for the entire week of April 17-22 and offering special adoption fees.
In Columbia County, its animal services division has been featuring successful adoptions on its Facebook page the past few months and has had some unique promotions, including one involving the characters from The Golden Girls to pique interest. Also, several area rescue organizations assist in finding homes for shelter dogs and cats.
The emphasis is on getting their animals adopted, Eskola said. As of March 31, Augusta Animal Services had 98 dogs and 32 cats. In the first quarter of 2023, they had 120 dogs adopted, 113 returned to owners, and 208 transferred to rescue. In the first quarter of 2023, they had 43 cats that were adopted, 9 returned to owners, and 160 transferred to rescue.
Recently, there were as many as 14 long-term shelter dogs in need of being adopted. Rescue groups have been taking in their cats and kittens, but Eskola said they are entering into what she calls “kitten season,” so the rescue groups will be overwhelmed with requests soon.
The Augusta area has many groups working to rescue animals and find homes for them. A second story will highlight some of the groups around North Augusta and Aiken, but here is a sampling of the many Augusta organizations working to help animals. Sometimes organizations work on both sides of the river.
Hands to Paw Rescue in Augusta takes animals from shelters to find people to adopt them. According to its Facebook page, it recently helped with more than 15 adoptions and is in need of two outdoor kennel run donations.
The CSRA Humane Society sponsors a lost and found Facebook page for dogs and cats in the area and beyond. The CSRA Humane Society, is a no-kill shelter serving Augusta and the CSRA and has saved approximately 10,000 dogs and cats in over 25 years.
Another rescue organization in on the Georgia side of the Savannah is Southern Souls Rescue which according to its Facebook page is “committed to rescuing dogs from high kill shelters and communities in Georgia and surrounding states.”
The group frequently posts animals available for adoption to its social media. The group often takes in animals in need of medical care.
Dog and Cats Networking Agency also works to find homes for animals. The Evans-based group rescues and fosters animals and uses donations to spay and neuter them.
The group has a Paint 4 Paws fundraiser, which will be from 3 to 5 p.m. May 6 at AR Workshop Evans. People can shop, paint a sign with one of four different sayings, meet available pups for adoption and have refreshments.
Team Stinkykiss “is a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescuing and rehoming of homeless and abandoned animals, with a primary focus on dogs from high-kill shelters in the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA). By working with committed volunteers, loving foster homes, local veterinarians, and animal shelters, TSK is able to rescue and provide animals in-need with loving temporary foster care and, ultimately, placement with well matched, carefully screened, forever homes,” according to its website.
Ron Baxley Jr. is a correspondent for Augusta Good News. He’s also the author of several books inspired by The Wizard of Oz as well as a graphic novel based on his Corgi, Ziggy.