Nonprofit Furkids took first place in the GIVE Atlanta Challenge for the second year in a row, raising $121,822 for a total of $141,572 with the magazine’s contribution. “Following GIVE Atlanta 2017, we’ve had a 41 percent increase in the number of lives we’ve saved this year over the same period last year,” founder Samantha Shelton says.
Furkids was born out of a need for adoption and no-kill shelter options in the metro Atlanta area after Shelton came across a cat family outside her home in 2001. She started volunteering at a PetSmart in 2002 and organizing adoptions out of the Perimeter store. With more than 1,000 active volunteers and nearly 40,000 animals rescued, Furkids has become Georgia’s largest no-kill shelter and rescue.
Over the past year, Shelton has been working tirelessly on their new nine-acre headquarters in Cumming, which opened in August. It will eventually house both cat and dog shelters and a veterinarian clinic open to the public under its 2,000-square-foot space, which also has an adoption center, vaccine clinics, and microchip and low-cost spay/neuter services.
Beyond brick-and-mortar expansions, Furkids is also actively working to expand some of its programs, including Furkids Furtales, where students under 16 read to—and socialize with—cats at the shelter. Shelton recently partnered with Gwinnett County Public Library for children to volunteer. “This is a special way to accomplish their reading goals for the summer, our goals for interaction with our animals, and of course, adoptions,” she says.
Elsewhere, the nonprofit is looking to grow its out-of-state animal transport program, which began after Furkids sent 35 cats to no-kill shelters in various northern states following Hurricane Irma in 2017. “We have saved more lives through our out-of-state transport program than we would’ve been able to do locally through our nonprofit. It’s the biggest life-saving bang for your buck,” Shelton says. Since then, this effort has expanded to 12 states, and more than 2,000 animals have been moved and adopted.
Despite this growth, Shelton knows there’s more work to do. “Georgia is not where it needs to be yet, and I’m motivated to do better every day to figure out how we can save more lives,” she says. “There are animals in these shelters waiting for us to help them.”