He may be better known for filling an empty City Council seat in Brookhaven, but for the last couple of years John Park has quietly provided shelter animals with a warm place to sleep.
Park and his wife, Morgan, foster pets for Friends of DeKalb Animals, or FODA, a nonprofit group that pulls animals out of shelters and transports them to states in the northeastern U.S., where there are shortages of dogs to adopt.
Park says it started five years ago when he went to the DeKalb animal shelter to adopt his dog, Jamie, a half Lab, half Chow mix. When he got to the shelter, he said, there were only about 20 dogs in the adoption room. Park said he told shelter staff, “I would have imagined that you had more dogs.”
“They said, ‘Are you sure you want to see them?’” Park said, and then they took him to the back of the shelter.
“It was horrific,” he said. “There were four or five dogs to a kennel, and it was constantly damp.”
At the time, 80 percent of the dogs that went into the shelter never made it out, Park said.
After he adopted his dog, Park said he went to FODA’s website and began making contributions and attending fundraisers.
“One day they said, ‘Can you take a dog?’” Park said. Since that time, Park estimates that some 50 or 60 dogs have temporarily stayed in his unfinished basement, where they can be separated if contagious and simply given a place to rest before being transported to rescue groups in the north.
“They range from puppies to 5 to 6 years [old],” he said. “They just need a quiet place, a walk and to socialize before they all pretty much go on to a better life.”
“All we do is give them a place to crash,” he said. “I would love to go back to the shelter and grab all of them, but you have to balance and understand that you do what you can.”
As for Jamie, Park’s adopted dog? “We just love her,” he said. “You could tell that she was a stray, not as well socialized [as others], but she’s a great guard dog and great on a leash. There’s something about shelter dogs, they just know they’ve been rescued.”
For more information about FODA, visit www.friendsofdekalbanimals.com.