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Local volunteers help care for Great Pyrenees rescues

Staff Photo: Megan Kotowski. Local volunteers pose with a handful of the Great Pyrenees dogs available for adoption today.

Staff Photo: Megan Kotowski. Local volunteers pose with a handful of the Great Pyrenees dogs available for adoption today.

Looking for a new member of the family? Today, the Great Pyrenees Rescue Atlanta is hosting an adoption day at the Dunwoody PetSmart to find homes for the large white dogs. Many of them are rescues that the nonprofit saved and given them a better life.

"Some come in so pitiful and malnourished, then they become this beautiful dog," said John Heldrich, founder of the Great Pyrenees Rescue Atlanta.

These gentle giants were originally bred to watch over herds for farmers.

"They are protectors," Heldrich said. "They may be big, but never vicious."

Local Gwinnett volunteers take time out of their busy schedules to save, nurture, foster and find homes for Great Pyrenees who have been found abandoned throughout the Southeast.

The organization, based in Norcross, searches for foster homes to care for the dogs until they are matched with a permanent new home. When there aren't enough foster volunteers, the pooches are boarded in either the Pet Lodge Resort in Alpharetta or Man's Best Friend in Lilburn.

"We take care of them," Heldrich said. "And if we can't find a foster home, we make sure it's boarding with love."

That's where the volunteers come in. They ask for dog walkers, foster homes, fundraisers, taxi teams or to give home visits for potential new families that want to adopt.

"You don't have to donate tons and tons of time," said Susan Edwards, Director of Volunteering. "If someone only has a couple hours a week, we can find something for them to do."

This organization is very family friendly, too. Bunny and Guy Rebdick of Lilburn bring their seven grandchildren to Man's Best Friend to walk and groom the dogs once a week.

"Our oldest granddaugher wants to go to Gwinnett Tech to become a veterinary technician," Bunny Rebdick said.

Her husband Guy Rebdick added, "She wanted to go to school for that in part because she would come with us to walk the dogs."

There is always a need to raise money in order to tend to the dogs. Some are in terrible condition when they are found, but the group rears them back to health.

Normal protocol is to give heartworm treatments and shots, have the canine microchipped, and then they are spayed or neutered, which is about $800 per animal on average.

After all the treatment and care, the dogs are healthy and ready for adoption.

Adoption times are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Dunwoody PetSmart on Perimeter Circle. For more information about the organization, volunteering, or adoption days, visit www.greatpyratlanta.com.