Reducing Animal Cruelty Through Education Programs And Innovative Pet Therapy │ Atlanta Rescue Dog Café

pet therapy


Reducing Animal Cruelty Through Education Programs And Innovative Pet Therapy │ Atlanta Rescue Dog Café

      Atlanta Rescue Dog Café has an interesting story and an inspiring mission. Don’t be fooled by its name because this café offers something more impactful than just a cup of freshly brewed coffee. It isn’t a typical rescue organization, either.

According to Aaron Fisher, its founder, the Atlanta Rescue Dog Café is passionate about helping kids and animal rescue.

“What we are and what we do that makes us different from every rescue shelter out there is that we don’t take in. We don’t adopt our animals.”

What do they do exactly? They help prevent animal cruelty and reduce the overall flow of animals entering shelters by offering innovative pet therapy, humane education programs, and community building!


What Is The Atlanta Rescue Dog Café?

pet therapy

Atlanta Rescue Dog Café is a humane and educational non-profit organization that aspires to help educate the next generation into becoming a kinder and more compassionate community for animals.

The organization teaches people, both kids and adults, about various humane pet care practices and ways of responsibly caring for animals in a manner that can help keep them inside homes, out of rescues, and off the streets. 

Among their primary objective as an organization is to relieve the strain placed on local animal shelters due to the constantly growing number of animals becoming rescues. The dog rescue café does rescue prevention through the use of educational programs.

As a former elementary teacher, Aaron taught many kinds of students — among those are kids that are deadly afraid of dogs due to misconception and those who don’t know how to safely interact with animals without the risk of getting bitten.

Aaron reached out to local shelters to see if they have age-appropriate educational programs to help enhance his students learning in this certain area. He was disappointed to learn that not a single shelter had one.

“We were missing an opportunity to develop that next generation of kind and caring animal welfare advocates and responsible pet owners.”

Aaron then started volunteering and eventually worked in the animal welfare scene. He realized early on that communities opt to treat the symptom than the root cause of why pets are becoming rescues in the first place. That gave him the motivation to start the dog rescue café.


Prevent Animals From Becoming Shelter Pets Through Pet Therapy and More!

pet therapy

“The heart of what we do is promote empathy and responsible pet care to promoting positive human-pet interactions.”

Currently, the Atlanta Rescue Dog Café offers a wide array of age-appropriate educational programs. They also provide engaging and fun pet therapy and community building that fits all age groups!

They launched officially last November 2017. Plus, they have since catered and worked with over 30,000 participants. With a good chunk coming from students from underserved communities!

By 2020, they started offering their services virtually in response to the global virus outbreak, which pushed their organization further into the limelight. Now, they offer services in 35 states, have reached more than 30 countries, and have participants from 6 continents!

Aaron shared that rather than chasing the shiny spotlight to get bigger, they will focus more on the root problem. They want to leave a huge impact locally before they consider expanding outward.

Atlanta Rescue Dog Café is doing great being scrappy, small, and hungry. These traits helped them have an outsize impact relative to their size.


People can find them on their official website. Those interested in volunteering, donating, and getting involved with them can reach out!

Have suggestions for who we should interview next?

Send us a message at [email protected]!

Aaron: I’m Aaron Fisher, and this is The Animal Innovations Show.

Chris: Awesome, Aaron.

So, start us off. Tell us who you are and how you’re innovating and helping animals.

Aaron: My name is Aaron Fisher, like I said, and I’m the founder and CEO of Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe.

And what we are and what we do, which is what makes us different from every shelter and rescue out there, is we actually don’t take in, we don’t adopt out animals.

What we actually do is we bring certified therapy dogs into libraries, to schools, to homeless shelters, boys and girls clubs, YMCAs, you name it.

And we teach people, both kids, and adults, how to be safe and kind to pets, how not to get bitten, and then all the things that we can do to responsibly care for animals in a manner that keeps pets in homes, off the streets, and out of shelters, essentially, rescue prevention through education.

Chris: Yeah, I love that.

The proactive approach. As you said, if I just looked at your name, I would immediately assume that—you know, you’re a cafe that serves coffee and adopts out dogs.

But it’s nothing like that.

Aaron: We have the name very intentionally.

Number one, people hear Rescue Dog Cafe, it immediately pulls them in. They want to have a conversation.

And a cafe is a place where conversation and community come together. We do host the occasional pop-up cafes, where we have hot chocolate for kids, coffee for adults, do our read-aloud at festivals, farmers markets, boys and girls clubs, you name it.

Chris: So talk more, Aaron, about what one of these programs looks like. So, an organization comes to you and says, “Hey, we’d love to be a part of this.”

Take it from there.

Aaron: So, we have programs for the youngest children, let’s say 3 to five-year-olds in preschools. We do an interactive read-aloud. It’s with Stephanie Calmenson’s book called: May I Pet Your Dog?

Our program is called: Can I Pet Your Dog?

And what we do is we go in, we bring the book with us, we do an interactive read-aloud for the children.

And while we’re reading the book, the kids are learning to ask certain questions, to come up and learn how to safely and respectfully approach the dog, asking, “May I please pet your dog?”

To put their hand in front of the dog, let it sniff it. Why we don’t put our face next to a strange dog’s face, the importance of not running from an unfamiliar dog or shouting, and how we learn to respect and understand dog behavior to promote more positive human-pet interactions.

So, that’s for our youngest participants, we have a program called: The One Leash Project in which we actually make dog leashes out of repurposed climbing rope.

Since we started that program, we’ve kept more than 7000 pounds of that material out of landfills. The participants are learning to make the leashes, which we then distribute completely free to first responders.

So, when a police officer or a firefighter responds to an emergency or comes across a stray dog, they have the means and the training to secure the animal and reunite it, ideally with its family, keeping it off the streets, hopefully preventing it from getting hit by a car, keeping it out of a shelter, or worst case, taking it to a vet, getting it scanned for a microchip and hopefully reuniting with its family that way.

Chris: Yeah, I like how all of these are— the lessons are well thought out, and it sounds like you’ve targeted them at different age groups.

Like you said, elementary school kids all the way up to how high do you go?

Aaron: So, all of our programs are what you basically said, which is scalable, meaning adjustable for age, and appropriateness as well as scaffolding, meaning we can go to greater depth of knowledge or learning for each age for each type of class that we’re working with.

We work with children as young as 3 in our “Can I Pet Your Dog,” program all the way up to bringing some of our programs into senior assisted living facilities.

So, we like to say we work with the youngest all the way up to the youngest at heart. And it’s been particularly gratifying to me because the senior assisted living facilities and a lot of the medical facilities due to COVID were the first to go offline and the last ones to come back.

Chris: Yeah, totally understand.

What does the future look like? What’s your vision? Where do you want to take this?

Aaron: I love what we’re doing now.

And so often, I think, especially for small nonprofits such as ours—and we’re very small. We have a small staff. We have about 100 volunteers, of whom about 60, 70 or 30 are certified therapy dog teams.

About 30 are community outreach volunteers. We have three amazing interns, right now.

I want to keep focusing on where the problem primarily is. So, I want to keep having the impact that we’re having, which is where most of the source of pets that enter our shelter system come from.

Chris: Yeah, very well stated.

So, Aaron, if people want to learn more, if they want to possibly reach out one of your courses, I mean—what’s the best way for them to find you and get a hold of you?

Aaron: So, on social media, we’re @ATLANTARESCUEDOGCAFE  and our website is THERESCUEDOGCAFE.ORG

Thank you—and I just want to make very clear also that we’re not pointing any fingers at the shelter or the rescue system.

We like to say what we’re doing is trying to complement their efforts. We want to focus on the front end of rescue and hopefully helping to reduce euthanasia rates and shelters by reducing intake in the first place.

Chris: And as I wrap up the show, it’s a perfect way to end on that note is that on The Animal Innovations Show, we’re all about trying to highlight innovative ideas and products and services.

So, maybe you’re watching or listening and you know of somebody, or maybe you are somebody that has an innovative product or idea or service that helps animals or the people that love them.

We’d love to know about it. Just go to INNOVATIONS.SHOW in your browser and we’d love to have you come on the show.

And please, we can always use more volunteers at DOOBERT.COM where you can be a transporter, a foster, a photographer, so many different ways you can help out.

You can even buy your pet food through Doobert. And we’ll donate 5% of your order to the rescue or shelter or any other type of organization that you choose.

So, please check it out at DOOBERT.COM.

Aaron, thank you so much for coming on. Thank you for everything you’re doing and really excited to be able to try and help and feature you.

Aaron: Thank you for inviting us on, it was a pleasure.

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