By Sarah Wibell
Since 2004, Companion Animal Rescue, Inc. has served animals in Morgan County in more ways than just a rescue center. On June 8, CARI will hold a low-cost vaccination clinic for dogs and cats from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the CARI Marketplace at 7191 Atlanta Highway, Rutledge. The clinic is accessed from the right side of the building. Dr. Elizabeth Perry will provide $15 rabies shots, $15 DHLPP, $15 FVRCP, and $25 microchipping on a first-come, first-served basis. Cats must be crated and dogs need to be on leashes.
“We’ve moved from Animal Control to our place here, and this is our first year – 2019 – in our new location,” stated Donna Prior, who co-founded CARI with Ellen Warren. “Dr. Perry has been working with us for at least 13 or 14 years. She has her own low-cost vet clinic in Loganville, which is called Paradox Spay & Neuter Clinic. She is also the founder of Pound Puppies ‘N Kittens.”
In addition to the June clinic, CARI holds a low-cost spay and neuter clinic on the first Tuesday of every month, which does require people to register for the limited spaces. “We’ve been doing the spay/neuter program for quite some time,” Prior noted.
Reflecting on the beginnings of CARI, Prior explained with a smile, “Ellen Warren and Natalie Reams were the two ladies who wanted me to start volunteering at Animal Control, so I blame them wholeheartedly … Once you’re in it you’re hooked … I started off as a volunteer for two years and then worked my way up (18 years) to director, and there was just a great need (for an organization like CARI).
“No rescue organizations compete with each other … We were helping the animals in this county, and we just thought by forming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit we could do so much more for the animals in this county, and we have. Our rescue started a low-cost spay and neuter program … Nina Henderson, our adoption coordinator, is very helpful and has been with us for years. We have six or seven dogs now that are heartworm positive; we don’t turn an animal away simply because it has health issues … We do not adopt out just to have the adoption fee. We adopt where we feel like the animal is best suited. We have a low return rate, and we always take our animals back, period, if people reach out to us and say it’s not working out …
“There are so many stories. When you hear back from all of these little animals that you saved, each one is a success. Early on, there was a golden chow mix. He humped everything, so his name was Humphrey. He was adopted by a lady (Christina) in Massachusetts in 2005. He recently died, probably two years ago. Well, Christina was just devastated – that was her soulmate. So, she and her dad not only bought CARI a gray van, but also designed and paid for a decal that says ‘In Memory of Humphrey’.”
The CARI Marketplace sells donated items and the proceeds fund the animal rescue. The Marketplace not only accepts donations of furniture, household items, and money but also land, cars, boats, and buildings. “Our goal for the Marketplace is to become successful enough that we can turn the building next to us into shelter space and maybe a doggy daycare,” Prior shared. “Our animals are primarily in foster homes, but you only have so many foster homes. We want to grow and do more.” With a shelter license currently set at a maximum of 20 animals at any one time, Prior noted that additional space would allow CARI to accept and aid even more animals throughout the year.
“It’s so rewarding when you have an animal that’s been beaten and abused and you go in every day and sit in the kennel and spend time with it, and you gradually see the light come on in the dog’s eyes,” Prior asserted. “That’s what’s rewarding to me. And you see their personalities, and the next day you go in the tail is wagging, and then the next thing you know they’re in your lap. That’s the best part of it, being able to show any animal that there are people out there who can respect them and provide a good life for them.”
To register for a low-cost spay and neuter clinic at CARI, email email@example.com or for additional information go to https://www.cari-rescue.com/.