Each year, almost 400,000 adoptable dogs are euthanized in the U.S. simply because shelters are overwhelmed and adoption is often not someone’s first option when looking for a pet.
While many people assume animals at shelters come with issues, most of the dogs adopted through rescue groups and animal control here in Atlanta are well behaved, loving, healthy and, in many cases, housetrained.
Dogs wind up in rescue throughout the metro area for a variety of reasons — including divorce, a new baby in the family, a move, death and illness — to name just a few. These dogs come in all breeds, shapes and sizes, as well as with different temperaments. Contrary to what many people think, breed-specific dogs are also available. Typically, rescue dogs are fully vaccinated and spayed or neutered before arriving at their new homes.
The Atlanta dog daddies highlighted here saw the value in rescuing their beloved pets from an uncertain or deadly future. Each one has a different story to tell about their rescue journey, but what every dog daddy has in common is compassion and the desire to gain new, loving family members. This Father’s Day, here’s to the men who walk the dogs, nurse them back to health, throw the tennis balls and provide endless treats on demand.
Jeff Alperin has adopted two dogs through rescue groups. He adopted his first dog, Fluffernutter (aka Fluffer), through the Atlanta Humane Society. Fluffernutter lived to be 17. Alperin described her as “brown, white and very sweet — just like the cookie.”
Bogart (Bogie), his current pet, was so named because of his “movie star good looks and because he’s an excellent kisser,” joked Alperin. Bogie was adopted from the Golden Retriever Rescue of Atlanta and is probably 10 years old.
Alperin did not want or need a purebred dog when he went in search of a pet. “There are plenty of available dogs through a rescue or shelter. Why did I need a new one?” he said. He liked that he was able to learn about each dog’s temperament in advance, so he could be certain that they would be a good fit for him. Alperin mentioned that many of the rescue dogs come housebroken and trained. “It’s fun to discover what the dogs know how to do when they arrive at your home,” he said.
Bogie loves his twice-a-day walks, and the neighborhood kids love Bogie. He likes to be at the bus stop in Alperin’s Virginia Highland neighborhood when the children get off the bus, but Alperin is definitely his “person.”
“What’s better than having a guy pal who doesn’t demand I play poker so he can take all my money?” he quipped.
Bob Tucker and his wife have fostered more than 100 dogs over the past 10 years for a myriad of rescue organizations, including Orphan Annie, Great Pyrenees Rescue, FurKids, Two Tailz and Atlanta Lab Rescue. They currently have seven dogs of their own, all “foster fails,” adopted as a result of falling in love with their temporary “boarders.”
For years, they have been committed to caring for and rehabbing dogs who arrive at their home with serious medical conditions.
“My wife and I would never purchase a dog from a pet store or a puppy mill. I came into our relationship with two dogs and three cats to join her five dogs and four cats. Since my wife, Paula Rothman, is a retired physician, we have primarily fostered dogs with wounds and medical issues,” said Tucker. In fact, the couple is legendary among the rescue community. Among their many fosters, they have cared for dogs with cancer, distemper and paralysis.
Tucker’s current pack includes Etta, a pitbull mix, who was diagnosed with leukemia and is thriving as a result of ongoing chemotherapy and alternative medicine. Etta loves her weekly swims at the Chattahoochee Nature Preserve, where she chases geese and leaps like a deer, according to Tucker. Etta has come a long way since the vet was asked to “put her down” by her previous owners because of her cancer diagnosis.
She is now loving life, being pampered with lots of love, playmates, dog beds and good food.
Several years ago, Eric Jacobson and his wife, Terri, decided to move intown, to southwest Atlanta. At the time, stray pit bulls roamed the neighborhood, and the couple with big hearts jumped into action.
First, Terri Jacobson, an artist and teacher, began working with a neighborhood rescue organization, W-Underdogs, leading art projects with neighborhood youth to beautify their facility. The rescue’s stated mission is to empower at-risk youth and teach them about the value of compassion toward animals and people. Jacobson quickly joined Terri and became a consultant to the board.
The Jacobsons currently have three dogs: Sugaree, Aiko and Grace. Sugaree was adopted as a puppy from Lifeline, and Aiko was adopted from W- Underdogs. Jacobson’s son adopted Grace from a man at the Cleveland, Ga., Walmart who threatened to drown her if she and her sibling were not “gone” by the end of the day.
His friend took one puppy and his son, who worked at Camp Barney Medintz for the summer, kept Grace at the barn with him until he went home at the end of the camping session.
In addition to his adopted dogs, Jacobson’s family has fostered several others over the past 25 years. “Both of my children were raised to take good care of animals. We all shared in the responsibilities, making sure our fosters and our own pets were fed, walked, watered and loved. We wanted to teach our kids important life lessons about responsibility and kindness,” he said.
Bruce Maslia has two Yorkie mixes who could be twins — brothers from different mothers, perhaps. Benito was found alone and abandoned with a torn-open bag of dog food in an outside kennel when his owner moved out of his apartment.
Matted and filthy, Hero Rescue took Benito into their program and Maslia adopted him shortly thereafter. Benito’s life turned around immediately, with daily walks, good food and weekends spent lounging by the pool with his new owner.
Junior joined the family a year ago. “I had my eye out for another small dog, and when I saw Junior on a Facebook rescue page, I wanted to meet him. He looked so much like Benito,” said Maslia, who is committed to finding his dogs only through rescue.
“Though Junior had a few behavioral issues when I adopted him, I knew I could help him. He gets better every day. Plus, Benito loves him.”
Maslia grew up in a home with dogs and has never felt the need to purchase one.
“There’s just too much overbreeding, and the rescued dogs need a good home too,” he said. “No matter how difficult your day has been, your dogs are always glad to see you. If that’s not unconditional love, I don’t know what is.”
Bruce Kauffman married a woman who told him that she never wanted to live without a dog. Since that time, the couple has had a dog — or two — for the past 18 years.
Though Kauffman admits that the responsibilities of pet ownership may have seemed daunting at first, the anticipated stress of caring for a house full of dogs quickly faded once he experienced the love that a pack could offer the entire family.
Kauffman, his wife, Kim, and daughter place a priority on traveling to dog-friendly places where they can take their current rescued pets, Liza and Groff, named after the actor who played King George in Hamilton.
His papa pride shining, Kauffman shared that strangers stop him on the street to tell him Liza, a golden retriever-coonhound mix, is the prettiest dog they have ever seen. “One of our other dogs trained her to think she’s a lap dog – all 80 pounds of her,” he joked. Liza was adopted through Angels Among Us. She is seven years old and the Kauffmans adopted her when she was a puppy.
Groff, likely a purebred Pointer, is probably eight or nine. The Kauffmans fostered and then adopted him three years ago. “His name in the shelter was Bruce, and my wife told me his personality was just like mine. How could I say no?” Kauffman recalled.
Kim Kauffman is a nurse and has a soft spot for dogs who need extra care. While she nursed Groff through heartworm treatment and tends to his ongoing arthritis and stomach issues, Kauffman is largely responsible for his daily walks.
“My wife introduced me to rescue. But I’m all in. I love that my dogs leap with excitement whenever I pick up their leashes. You’d think they were promised the key to heaven,” Kauffman mused.
“Who says purebred dogs can’t be found in rescue?” asked Yom Maman. (Full disclosure: Maman is my husband). He answered his own question as he talked about Pebbles and Lucy, his two senior Pomeranians. Maman’s family fostered Pebbles through Angels Among Us nine years ago, before adopting her a few weeks later.
Lucy joined the family almost three years ago when Maman’s mother-in-law passed away and her rescue dog needed a home. “From the beginning, we knew Lucy would likely join us one day. When an older person adopts a dog, it’s important to make arrangements for that pet’s long-term care,” said Maman.
Pebbles, now 15, was one of 11 dogs taken out of a domestic violence situation by the rescue. In the beginning, she was afraid of any loud noises or raised voices. Today, she has blossomed into a very well-adjusted dog who loves everyone, particularly children and other dogs. “Pebbles is not only a gorgeous girl, but she is the most easygoing member of our family,” said Maman.
Maman and his family began volunteering with and fostering dogs for Small Dog Rescue, a group that has since merged with FurKids. Since that time, they have welcomed a number of dogs into their home, including two Great Pyrenees who were going through heartworm treatment and a cocker spaniel mix from a hoarding case who had lived outside for most of his life. Most recently, they trapped a stray Pomeranian who had evaded neighborhood residents for a week and has since been adopted by the founder of Peace Love and Poms.
“I have two very special senior dogs who are beloved family members,” Maman concluded. “Our last dog lived to be 17. With any luck, our two now will live at least that long.”
- Debbie Diamond
- Father's Day
- Doggie Daddies
- Jeff Alperin
- Atlanta Humane Society
- Golden Retriever Rescue of Atlanta
- Bob Tucker
- Orphan Annie
- Great Pyrenees Rescue
- Two Tailz
- Atlanta Lab Rescue
- Chattahoochee Nature Preserve
- Camp Barney Medintz
- Bruce Maslia
- Bruce Kauffman
- Yom Maman
- Angels Among Us