Atlanta nonprofit works with kids to reduce number of animals that end up in shelters

Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe hopes to improve pet care, people’s relationships with animals through educational programming

Aaron Fisher sees animal shelters as a way to treat a symptom, not the root cause. That’s what motivated him to go one step further to help Atlanta’s animals.

Fisher is the founder and CEO of Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe, a local nonprofit that seeks to educate people on how to better care for pets and improve relationships with animals overall.

It’s an effort he hopes will prevent pets from entering shelters in the first place.

"If (shelters) are doing their job, that means people aren't surrendering animals, everyone knows how to responsibly care for pets, how to safely approach pets," Fisher told 11Alive.

Since 2018, Fisher says the nonprofit has held education programs for more than 12,000 people in the metro area — the majority of whom are children.

The programs focus on things like: learning the basics of how to approach a dog safely, bite prevention skills, being a better pet owner and ways to bond with an animal.

According to the nonprofit’s website, the idea was born out of Fisher’s time teaching elementary school. While many of his students were interested in learning more about pets, they were often too young to volunteer anywhere.

He felt there wasn’t an organization dedicated to educating people on “how to care for pets and be safer around animals.” So he decided to start something.

By bringing pets into schools and other settings with kids, Fisher hopes to educate on “humane animal practices and responsible pet care.”

"Despite all the good that's being done and has been done for Atlanta's pets, the number of animals entering the shelters continues to go up," Fisher told 11Alive. "So if we think about the goal of rescue, every shelter should be ultimately to put itself out of business."

The nonprofit doesn’t take pets in or adopt out, instead they work with volunteers with certified therapy dogs.

In addition to their work in schools, the nonprofit leads a program they call “the one leash project.” It gives kids a chance to make a dog leash from re-purposed rope.

They are then distributed to local first responders trained to secure pets in emergencies.

More information on Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe can be found here.