Who we are

We’re an all-volunteer group that cares A LOT about the pets in our community and the people who love them. We are dedicated to helping our shelter pets find permanent homes or rescue placements and to reducing pet overpopulation in the Athens area.

What we do

We work closely with Athens-Clarke County Animal Services and local rescue groups to help them help our shelter animals. Our projects include:

  • Maintaining this website and publicizing the shelter animals on social media;
  • Covering the extraordinary veterinary costs of the shelter animals;
  • Soliciting sponsorships for individual pets to attract rescue groups;
  • Ensuring the shelter animals receive the mental stimulation and exercise they need to stay healthy and happy while they await their homes;
  • Spaying & neutering community pets otherwise at high risk of adding to pet overpopulation in our area;
  • Helping animals stay in good, if impoverished, homes; and
  • Providing sponsorship or treatment, as appropriate and as funds are available, for special needs shelter animals.

How we do it

Only with your help! Volunteers photograph the shelter pets and write their online stories, help with local transport needs, reach out to local businesses that might be able with some aspect of our programs, and volunteer at community events. To volunteer, sign up today or email info@athenspets.net. More detailed descriptions of some of the volunteer opportunities can be found at /volunteer/.

In addition, we participate in Kroger Community Rewards, ResQWalk, Amazon Smile, and iGive. Signing up for each of these programs and selecting “Athenspets” as your designated charity helps the shelter animals without taking any additional time or any money on your part! Directions for signing up for each of these programs can be found at /reward-programs/.

Donations are critical to our programs. All donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. To donate by paypal, go to /make-a-donation/; you can designate your donation to be used for medical expenses, our spay/neuter program, or to be used as the Board members believe is best. To donate by check, mail to Athenspets, P.O. Box 1022, Athens, GA 30603. More information about how we spend donated funds can be found at /make-a-donation/.

How Far We’ve Come

The last few years have been BIG for Athenspets. While we’ve been an informal volunteer group since 2001, it wasn’t until January of 2015 that we incorporated and become a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. At that point, we started our spay/neuter and heartworm testing, prevention & treatment programs and expanded the existing medical program. Since then, Athenspets has paid or greatly subsidized the cost of spay/neuter surgeries for thousands of community pets identified as otherwise at risk of reproducing outside of a licensed breeding program and hundreds more shelter animals, greatly increasing their likelihood of positive outcomes and that of all of the shelter animals!

We have received grants from the Petco Foundation, the Petfinder Foundation, Maddie’s Fund, the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s license plate program, Bissell Pet Foundation, Lil BUB’s BIG Fund for the SPCA, and the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, but most of our funding comes from you–the animal lovers of Athens-Clarke County!

We’re always open to ideas, especially if they come with your dedication and time!

Rescue placements

While it is not the main focus of Athenspets, we are a Georgia licensed rescue (GDA license #33-33106975). We do not recruit fosters and only adopt out animals in limited circumstances.

In 2017, Athenspets had 30 dogs in our care. All were transferred in from Athens-Clarke County Animal Control. Of these dogs, 14 were adopted out, 14 were transferred to other rescue groups, and 2 remained in our care at the end of the year. None were euthanized or otherwise died in our care for a live release rate of 100% for dogs.

We had 25 cats in our care in 2017, also transferred in from Athens-Clarke County Animal Control. All of the cats were adopted out for a live release rate for cats of 100%.

In 2016, our live release rates for dogs and cats were also 100% (26/26 adopted or transferred for dogs; 51/51 adopted or transferred for cats).

All cats and dogs adopted out by Athenspets are spayed or neutered before adoption.


RELEASHED Dog Training Program

Dog Training Programs are an evidence-based initiatives designed to help low risk inmates — Returning Citizens —  and at-risk dogs in communities across the country. These programs have been proven to improve the mental health of Returning Citizens and decrease the likelihood that they will reoffend. They also allow the dogs to get out of the crowded shelter and learn skills that make them more likely to be adopted!

The RELEASHED Dog Training Program is a partnership between Athens-Clarke County Animal Services, Athens-Clarke County Department of Corrections, and Athenspets. Dogs from ACCAS are brought to live in a specialized enclosure on Corrections property. There, they are trained and socialized by pairs of Returning Citizens under the supervision of Tricia Hall, of Bone-A-Fide Dog Training. Once the dogs are ready, usually after three to four months of training, they become eligible for adoption!

By adopting a dog from RELEASHED, not only do you get a happy, healthy, trained pet but you get to help animals and people in your community.


Adoption Process

The Athens-Clarke County Animal Services shelter is a municipal, open-admission shelter. This means that it takes in owner surrendered animals from Athens-Clarke County residents and stray animals found by county residents or found in Athens-Clarke County limits whether or not there is available space (owners looking to surrender animals may be asked to schedule an appointment to do so but if you cannot hold onto the animal until the scheduled time, let staff know--they will work with you).

At Athenspets we are firm believers in having open-admission shelters; animals without another safe place to be need a place they can go instead of being left to wander and struggle to survive on their own or being hastily given to someone who will not have their best interests in mind. However, this means that critically injured animals, terminally ill and suffering animals, and aggressive animals are admitted and generally euthanized. In addition, because animals are admitted even when there is no available space at the shelter, at times they euthanize healthy, nonaggressive animals, including those that would make great pets but that are struggling in the high-stress shelter environment.

As a result, adopters and rescues need to act quickly, to help ensure space is available for the animals that need it.

Provided veterinary care

All dogs receive DHPP and bordetella vaccination, basic deworming, microchipping, and heartworm testing on impound. Dogs that test positive for heartworms are only available to rescues for the first 30 days; after that they can be rescued or enter a foster-to-adopt arrangement (apply here) and may be adopted after they are treated for heartworms (at county expense). Most dogs are also vaccinated against rabies and all are spayed or neutered prior to adoption.

Adoption & rescue process generally

Applications for an animal are taken by staff as soon as an animal is impounded. Each approved applicant, regardless of whether an individual or a licensed rescue group, is provided priority in adopting or rescuing the animal on a first-come first-served basis.

Once an animal becomes available (either because the stray hold period has expired or s/he was surrendered to the shelter by an owner), applicants may adopt or rescue the animal if he or she is still at the shelter at the adoption time arranged between you and shelter staff. If you were not given an adoption time, or before you come to the shelter for your adoption time, call the shelter at 706-613-3540 to arrange a time or find out if the dog is still available, as applicable.

Adopters or rescues that are not first in order of priority for an animal should call the shelter at the start of their adoption windows to determine whether the animal is still available for adoption or rescue. If so the adoption or rescue must be completed within the assigned time period.

More information about adopting a dog can be found on the county's website.

Because about half of our adoption applications fall through, it is worth putting an application on the dog of your choice, even if you're not first in line!

Adoption fees

The current standard adoption fees for dogs are:

$150: Dogs under 25lbs and puppies 6 mons old or younger.

$100: Adult dogs over 25lbs and over 6 mons old that have been at the shelter 30 days or less.

$50: Any adult dog in the shelter over 30 days.


Applying to adopt a dog

To apply to adopt a shelter dog, go to the county's listing of impounded dogs. Click on the picture of the dog in which you are interested and complete the application the link reading "Interested in this animal? Click here" leads to. (You will need to scroll up to see it if the page looks blank.) If you do not hear back from staff within 48 hours, call 706-613-3540 to check in.

Not sure who you want to adopt?

If you would like to meet the dogs in person before adopting, schedule a walk-through appointment with staff by calling 706-613-3540. Since many of the available dogs are in foster homes, though, make sure to talk with Nicollette Watkins at the shelter and let her know of any dogs you think might be a good fit so she can make sure they are present for you to meet.

Athenspets hosts drop-in days at the shelter some Saturdays. Watch our Facebook page for announcements or ask shelter staff if there is an upcoming one scheduled! On these days, no appointment is needed to come by and meet the dogs, though only some of the dogs in foster care will be present. (If there is an upcoming drop-in day, let Nicollette Watkins know of any dogs listed in foster care in the shelter's on-line listing know of your interest so we can try to have them there--call 706-613-3540 to speak with Nicollette.)

Bring your dog to the shelter to pick a new best friend

We recommend bringing any household members the dog MUST get along with to the shelter for a meet-and-greet prior to adoption. This includes household dogs (they must be up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations and wearing a current rabies tag), young children, and elderly household members. Staff can help you make a great match!

Rescuing a dog

Athens-Clarke County Animal services makes it easy to rescue dogs! Our rescue partners ensure that there is always space at the shelter for newly impounded dogs that need a safe place to stay until their owners reclaim them or they are adopted or rescued.

In Georgia, only rescues licensed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture can take transfer of animals from a shelter if the transfer occurs in the state of Georgia. If you are an out-of-state rescue interested in helping with out our animals, please email info@athenspets.net for information about how we can help you become a rescue partner.

Georgia licensed rescues interested in helping: please send a copy of your GDA license and a signed "authorized person" form to nicollette.watkins@accgov.com, with information about the types (or specific identities) of the dogs you can help.

There are no pull fees and no restrictions on which animals a rescue may pull, but all rescues and adoptions are on a first-come-first-served basis without preference for either, except where an animal is designated as "rescue only".

If you are interested in rescuing a "rescue only" dog but need help with expenses, email info@athenspets.net to see if sponsorship could be made available. Other animals may have private pledges of sponsorship as well; we can let you know these amounts (we are still coming up with a good way to advertise the amounts now that the shelter is publicizing the animals and will update this section when we can).

More information about rescuing an animal from Athens-Clarke County Animal Services can be found here.