Jennifer Arnold was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as a teenager and spent two years in a wheelchair. A local organization at the time trained service dogs to help people in wheelchairs, but it had a long waiting list, so Jennifer and her family went on to spend the next 10 years organizing Canine Assistants to connect people with service dogs. Canine Assistants trains dogs and places them with recipients that have physical disabilities, seizure disorders, and special needs. The dogs can assist with a variety of everyday tasks, such as turning on lights, opening doors, retrieving dropped objects, and providing companionship. Specially trained seizure-response dogs can also remain next to recipients during episodes and summon help. Canine Assistants also takes trained dogs on educational presentations around the region where they meet with students and people in hospitals to teach about disabilities. A new K-9 kids' reading program aims to motivates children to learn to read by letting them read aloud to the dogs, putting them at ease with a companion from whom they will receive no judgment.
Feral Cat Program of Georgia works with the community and a network of veterinarians to spay or neuter and vaccinate stray and feral cats throughout north Fulton and Forsyth Counties. Older cats are returned to their colonies and given food, water, and shelter by traveling colony caregivers, even in severe weather. Kittens are adopted into foster homes to help protect them from predators and foul weather. Volunteers help socialize these kittens, giving them both food and loving attention so that they can live happily in adoptive homes when they grow older. Foster families need to sit with them while they eat and pet them at least three times a day to help the kittens build trust in humans. In 2009, the program placed 228 cats into new homes and sterilized an additional 525 animals.
The volunteers at Labrador Friends of the South take homeless labradors under their wing, often fostering them in their own homes until they can find loving, adoptive families for them. Battling myths that abandoned dogs have health or behavioral problems, the volunteers carefully screen prospective parents and educate them about each dog's personality and medical history to ensure a good fit. Before the dogs are adopted out, they ensure each one is vaccinated, treated for any major health condition, and spayed or neutered to prevent pet overpopulation. The volunteers ensure each dog receives permanent care; if labs cannot remain in their homes due to unforeseen circumstances, they can return to the program to find another placement for as long as they live.
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