Athenspets is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to helping the needy animals of Athens-Clarke County Animal Services. We are the online presence for the shelter animals and help get the word out when the shelter needs more volunteers for its activities. All volunteers who will be going to the shelter need to complete the shelter’s volunteer orientation & abide by all shelter rules as any time spent at the shelter or handling shelter animals is as a shelter volunteer. Contact Animal Services for more information about volunteering & the orientation schedule! If you’re not local, you can still help! Some of the volunteer activities that can be done remotely (for example, networking our animals and helping raise funds) are obvious; others (like being in charge of tracking sponsorships, updating the website with new animals, and updating Facebook) are not.

Have you found your furry soulmate as a result of Athenspets? Please share your success stories and photos with Allyson!


Athens-Clarke County shelter volunteer – The dogs, cats, and humans at the shelter appreciate volunteers who can socialize and play with the animals any hours they are open. Some dogs and cats are frightened and stressed when they first arrive, and just a little one-on-one time with a person makes them feel so much better. Other dogs and cats are happy and friendly, but build up excess energy being stuck in a dog run or cat kennel nearly 24/7. Even a few minutes of exercise and playtime calms them down and will entertain you! If you think volunteering at the shelter might be depressing – just try it, you’ll be surprised. Dogs and cats live in the moment, so every happy moment they have with you is ‘forever’ to them. Call Animal Services for more information. **Please note: Many of the shelter animals have been neglected prior to impound and it is unlikely many of them are up-to-date on vaccinations (including rabies vaccinations). Take care in handling the animals, wash your hands thoroughly before leaving the shelter, and change your clothes when you get home to avoid spreading any diseases.**

Shelter foster: Athens-Clarke County now has a shelter foster program! Fosters give the shelter animals get a break from the stress of shelter living and help make them more adoptable by providing information about the animals’ personality when away from the shelter. Whether it’s for a single night or until an animal is adopted, shelter fosters greatly increased the life-saving capacity of the shelter. to apply to become a shelter foster, please complete the online form and a staff member will be in contact with you.


Athenspets Advocate – Athenspets Advocates are shelter volunteers who take it to the next level by becoming a cheerleader for one or two harder to place animals at a time. These volunteers visit the shelter at least once each week and take photos of and record notes about an animal to whom they have committed, sharing the info on social media throughout the following week. Advocates serve a valuable function by getting photos of the shelter animals in front of a new audience, telling stories about the animals from a new perspective, and keeping a close eye on the shelter animals so that shelter staff knows as soon as possible if there’s a problem. Sign up for a shelter volunteer orientation session if you are interested in becoming an Advocate!

     Information needed in Advocate posts: A photo or video and a sentence or two about what makes this pet special. Please make your post public and tag Athenspets so we can help publicize your Advocate animal! Additional information to include:

          Athens-Clarke County Animal Services
          125 Buddy Christian Way
          Athens, Georgia

Photo & story volunteer – Our website is an all-volunteer production and its core is the photos and bios we post so that folks know who is at the shelter and how great our animals are! Shelter volunteers opting to help Athenspets in this way are trained on the photo & story needs of the website and focus their shelter volunteer time at least twice a month on the newly impounded animals that are not already posted on our website. We provide photography & story training and have an internal calendar so that these volunteers know when they are most needed at the shelter. Sign up for a shelter volunteer orientation session and email volunteer@athenspets.net if you are interested in helping with the website bios!

Crossposting – If you can’t be a shelter volunteer, you can still help our dogs and cats get adopted by publicizing the posts from folks who are shelter volunteers on social media (like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), listservs, etc. and reaching out to rescues with which you have contacts. You may copy our pictures and stories to use for finding the animals homes while they’re at the shelter or for success stories – no copyright worries here! Be sure your posts include the pet’s ledger number and a link to the Athenspets bio for that animal. Dogs and cats do not stay at the shelter for long, so the information must be timely.

Fundraising – Athenspets funds needed medical care for the shelter animals to get them healthy and enrichment resources to keep them happy, and covers the cost of spaying & neutering pets in the community that have been identified as otherwise being at high risk of adding to pet overpopulation. We need all the help we can get–more money means more lives saved! We appreciate Facebook fundraisers for our benefit, donation drives, and monetary donations. To help with this important activity, please email donations@athenspets.net!

Administrative tasks – Running a volunteer group means there are numerous administrative tasks that must be managed. For example, being the webmaster, tracking the sponsorships, thanking our donors with emails and cards, doing the Form 990-EZs, and other such tasks are all done by volunteers so that *all* of the money raised can go to benefit the animals. Have a skill you’re willing to offer? Email us at info@athenspets.net today!


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.