As two Atlanta animal shelters launch expansions, here’s how you can give back

LifeLine Animal Project and PAWS Atlanta hope to offer more veterinary services to those in need
Atlanta animal shelters
A dog gives a kiss at LifeLine’s DeKalb shelter.

Photograph by Hunter Leibler

When LifeLine Animal Project opened in 2002, it set out on a mission to end shelter euthanasia in Atlanta while caring for more than 15,000 animals a year—making it one of the largest nonprofit animal welfare organizations in the state. LifeLine took over managing both Fulton and DeKalb County’s animal services in 2013 and works to educate the community on better pet welfare and decrease the amount of euthanasia in shelters. One method is to offer low-cost spay and neutering services for Atlanta pet owners, and the shelter has even set aside funds for free procedures for those who can’t afford it.

Atlanta animal shelters
A dog at LifeLine’s DeKalb shelter looks out from his kennel.

Photograph by Hunter Leibler

LifeLine announced in early March plans for a new 25,000-square-foot community animal center that will serve as a full-service, low-cost veterinary clinic, an adoption center, and a dog training space. The vet clinic will be open to anyone that needs it, and will be designed for people to enjoy coming to it. Included in the plans is an outdoor area with patios and possible expansion for a dog park.

“We offer these [spay and neuter] services because people love their pets, but they just might not be able to afford it,” says Karen Hirsch, PR Director for LifeLine. “That’s one big component about this new shelter. We’re going to be able to eventually serve 20,000 people at our new vet clinic.”

Atlanta animal shelters
A dog looks out from behind a fence at PAWS Atlanta.

Photograph by Hunter Leibler

LifeLine isn’t the only local shelter that is looking to expand. PAWS Atlanta recently finalized plans with architects and the board of directors has approved an expansion, according to PAWS executive director Nancy Longacre.

PAWS Atlanta is the oldest animal shelter in the state, founded just over 50 years ago as the DeKalb Humane Society. They changed their name to PAWS Atlanta in 2002 and expanded the property in order to house more animals in need. Today, PAWS has found homes for over 46,000 animals, and their goal for this year is to place 1,000 pets with loving families.

“We’re currently creating a campaign to raise funds for our expansion,” says Longacre. “But we will be building a brand new clinic for the shelter and the public to use.”

Currently, PAWS offers low-cost vet services every other weekend, but once the new clinic is built, they will be able to provide these services daily.

Atlanta animal shelters
One of the dogs who was housed at PAWS Atlanta

Photograph by Hunter Leibler

Giving back
Giving back to the community is a core value for these nonprofit shelters, so how can you give back to them? Beyond volunteering at the shelters and donating to the expansion projects, one way is to purchase items from the Amazon wish lists for PAWS and LifeLine. The items ship directly from Amazon to the shelter, and the list includes items like dish and laundry detergent, office supplies, trash bags, pet crates, and more. The shelters will also often host unique fundraising events. For example, PAWS partners with Wild Heaven Beer on the first Thursday of every other month for a program called Pups and Pints, where the brewery donates 25 percent of the evening’s sales to PAWS. (The next event is June 7.)

Here are a few more upcoming events hosted by the two shelters:

Benefiting LifeLine:
April 28: ZooPaws Adoption Event
Before you check out the wild animals of Zoo Atlanta, stop by the front gates to meet more than 100 adoptable animals from LifeLine’s shelters. There will also be food trucks on site and various pet item vendors. 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Zoo Atlanta, 800 Cherokee Avenue Southeast

April 29: Cool Rides & Rescues
The entry fee for this open car show, hosted by Georgia Cool Cruisers, is a donation to LifeLine, and the event includes door prizes, a raffle, food, and of course, plenty of cool cars. 1-5 p.m., Decatur Estate & Way Back Antiques, 2272 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur

May 12: Community Pet Party & Picnic
This fundraising event at Kirkwood’s Bessie Branham Park will include adoptions, a dog parade, a dog kissing booth, and more. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 2051 Delano Drive Northeast

Benefiting PAWS:
May 9: Pints for a Purpose
Hosted at the Whole Foods on Ponce, proceeds from each $3 pint of beer will be donated directly to the shelter. 6-8 p.m., 650 Ponce de Leon Avenue Northeast

June 30: Atlanta Adult Prom
This retro dance—themed to Prince’s “Purple Rain”—will have its own red carpet, an open beer and wine bar, and a silent action where 100 percent of the proceeds go to PAWS. Ten percent of ticket sales also supports the shelter. 8 p.m.-12 a.m., Piedmont Room at Park Tavern, 500 10th Street Northeast

September 29: Party for the PAWS
Taking place at fellow animal nonprofit Chastain Horse Park, there will feature plenty of cocktails, a silent auction, and adoptable dogs. 6-10:30 p.m., Chastain Horse Park, 4371 Powers Ferry Road Northwest