This Holiday Heroes profile is from 2009; nominate your hero for 2010.
As the wife of a businessman and former GOP gubernatorial candidate, Ginny Millner is a well-known face at galas and benefits. And, as a founding member of the pet rescue group New Leash on Life, her passion for animal welfare is known to many.
But, for some residents of southwest Atlanta’s Adamsville neighborhood, her name did not resonate until recently.
Millner routinely checks in with Fulton County Animal Services to find out which ZIP codes and neighborhoods have the highest numbers of stray dogs and cats. She then tries to organize spay/neuter clinics in those areas. On one of those checks last year, the ZIP code for the Adamsville neighborhood popped up. So Millner contacted a neighborhood association there to see if she could partner with the group to sponsor a one-day event for residents who wanted to get their pets fixed.
She asked the neighborhood association to help her publicize the event.
“When she called, we were like, ‘Why is she here?’” said neighborhood organizer R.R. Harris. “I told her, ‘I’m not a pet owner, and you can’t just come down here once and not get involved in this community.’ But you know what? She came, and she’s been with us 150 percent since.”
In addition to setting up a clinic for pet owners, Millner and her volunteers also worked to capture strays and bring in the homeless animals for the procedures.
Millner discovered that many Adamsville residents were as afraid of the strays roaming their neighborhood as they were annoyed by them. A good number of the dogs were pitbull mixes. And some of those dogs bore the sorts of scars that come from organized dogfighting, Millner said.
“So many of the people there had had bad experiences with them,” Millner said.
For the past year, Millner made it her mission to regularly go into the Adamsville area to get as many of the strays off the streets and into adoptive homes as possible.
Through New Leash on Life, she also has sponsored pet safety workshops at elementary schools in the neighborhood, where children learned how to properly pet an animal and how to avoid being bitten.
“I want to give the children hope, and to clean up their streets, and for them to have animals for pets,” rather than as objects of fear, said Millner, whose husband is Guy Millner. “I’m just trying one pebble at a time.”
To say she’s a fixture in the neighborhood now might be a bit of a stretch, but Harris said Millner is someone her community can count on.
“Her heart is there,” Harris said.
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