Children learn how to treat and care for animals when they are young by watching their parents and members of the community for cues. If they are kind and responsible with their pets, kids tend to follow suit.
However, when children grow up without pets or with role models who are cruel or neglectful towards animals, their outlook on pet care is skewed.
That is why non-profits like Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe are vital to reducing animal cruelty and keeping dogs out of shelters.
What is ARDC?
Aaron Fisher is the founder and CEO of Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe. He formed the non-profit in 2017 in the hopes of reducing animal cruelty and over-crowding in area shelters.
As a former elementary school teacher and long-time animal welfare volunteer, Fisher is uniquely qualified to guide the future pet parents of Atlanta.
For liability reasons, children are typically unable to volunteer at animal shelters, so Fisher decided to bring the experience to the kids. ARDC has a pack of trained therapy dogs that visit schools, scouting events, birthday parties, and much more.
They even offer programs for adults, because it is never too late to become the best dog owner you can be!
What do they teach?
ARDC offers several programs that are both educational and fun. They are designed to engage the imagination and foster a healthy respect for animals. According to their website, ARDC’s programs reach more than 500 community members each month.
Responsible Pet Care
Fisher and his team teach participants to be responsible dog parents, answering questions such as:
- How often should your dog go to the veterinarian?
- What are the best ways to bond with your dog?
- What prevention measures yield the biggest results (vaccinations, microchips, spay/neuter, collars with IDs, etc.)?
Humane Animal Practices and Bite Prevention Skills
Participants of all ages learn to behave safely around pets and strays to encourage the human-animal bond and reduce bite incidences.
Careers in Animal Welfare
This program provides an overview of the many possible career paths in animal welfare. Young folks with a love for pets learn the skills required (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) to excel in these jobs.
The One Leash Project™
Kids ages eight and up learn how to make dog leashes from re-purposed climbing ropes. In the process, they learn about environmental sustainability and the importance of recycling.
This innovative program has kept more than 3,000 pounds of climbing rope material from entering landfills. In addition, many of the leashes are donated to local first responders to help them secure loose pets during emergencies.
Can I Pet Your Dog?™
The information gained in this course is essential for everyone, which is why it is designed for ages three and up. Participants learn how and when to safely approach a dog as well as the importance of understanding canine body language.
Why is their mission so important?
Despite the efforts of rescue organizations, the number of pets entering Atlanta-area shelters continues to increase, as do the animal cruelty cases. Many groups simply do not have the time, money, or manpower to educate the public in addition to their other duties. That’s where ARDC comes in.
“We’re not going to spay/neuter, shelter, or adopt our way out of the pet overpopulation problem,” Fisher says. “We [ARDC] address the root cause of these issues through innovative educational programs that focus on the critical aspects of prevention and healthy human-animal interactions.”
Meet the pups!
Ginger the Boxer and her mom/handler Kim love helping with ARDC’s humane education programs. Ginger also has an extraordinary underbite!
Clarice the St. Bernard’s dad Andy had her certified as a therapy dog so they could join the ARDC team.
Emily and Lemon the Golden Retriever learned about ARDC’s programs through a local therapy team network.
So did Heather and her therapy labradoodle, Ginger Fury.
Piggie the Blue Pitbull and his mom Lisa were already a certified therapy dog team when they met Aaron Fisher at ACE Hardware. They hit it off, and Piggie joined the team!
So where is the cafe?
Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe is yet to open a brick-and-mortar cafe as their name suggests, but it is definitely on their list of future goals! Fisher says:
“We’re a “cafe” in the sense that a cafe is where conversation happens, and we’re trying to generate conversation on what we – as a community – can do to promote positive human-pet relationships and prevent animals from ever entering shelters.”
What do you think of ARDC’s mission? Could education be the key to reducing cruelty and clearing the shelters?
Featured Image via Facebook/Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe
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