Aaron Fisher is like the Pied Piper of animal advocacy. Whether participating at a synagogue tikkun olam event or in a booth at a community festival, the founder and CEO of Atlanta Rescue Dog Café is a magnet for people of all ages, most especially children.
So devoted is he to curtailing the need for shelters and promoting responsible and humane treatment of animals, Fisher left his seven-year teaching career to do the work year-round. As a teacher he had noticed all his students were interested in animal welfare and learning about pet rescue opportunities and organizations, and he was passionate about providing that information.
Atlanta Rescue Dog Café was incorporated as a 501c3 late last year, and programming fully began in January 2018. Fisher has been surprised by the response. Demand is exceeding his original goal of reaching 5,000 students in the first year. On average, more than 500 people are presently being touched by his programs each month.
With the stated mission of “one day ending the need for animal shelters through educating the next generation about humane animal practices and the importance of responsible pet care,” this champion of all things furry has been tirelessly appearing at schools and speaking to scout troops and youth groups.
Fisher’s summer calendar is now chock full of engagements to spread his gospel of humane treatment of animals at camps, libraries, festivals, day care facilities, senior care residences and more. He will present anywhere within an hour of Atlanta and will never refuse any organization.
His newsletter lists local restaurants, breweries and even real estate agents that have teamed up to donate a portion of their proceeds to Atlanta Rescue Dog Café. A CrossFit gym allowed patrons to make a donation upon check-in.
At Summerfest 2018 in Virginia-Highland in early June, Fisher engaged youth in making leashes while sharing with them the importance of collars and ID tags. When opportunity allowed, he also talked to the children about the appropriate way to approach and pet a dog.
While a donation to the organization was requested, the activity at the festival was free. The finished leashes, with their accompanying letters of dedication from each participant, were then provided to pet rescue organizations and police officers for use throughout Atlanta.
With an eye on the environment, Fisher partners with area climbing gyms to recycle old rope for the leash-making project. Fisher’s alliance with local gyms has already prevented 1,200 pounds of retired climbing rope from ending up in landfills, while helping spread the message about proper treatment of animals.
This activity, Fisher said, “helps people, pets and the planet.” There is always a surplus of animals in shelters, he said. The numbers continue to go up instead of down, and he aspires to help reverse that trend on the front end, by preventing animals from ending up in Atlanta shelters in the first place.
Fisher believes his is the only nonprofit solely dedicated to animal welfare practices. His programs are specifically tailored to each grade level, such as the “Can I Pet Your Dog?” presentation for younger audiences, or the “So You Think You Want a Dog” segment or career day for older age groups. He has worked with children as young as 3 years old.
The Atlanta Rescue Dog Café message resonates with a broad spectrum of audiences.
His programs are ideal for birthday parties and community and private events. Fisher has already made a presentation to rising bar and bat mitzvah students at Temple Sinai about making Rescue Dog Café their mitzvah project, and will do the same at Or Hadash in the fall. He has participated with Jewish Kids Groups, In The City Camp and Marcus JCC Summer Camp.
Earlier this year he was part of an MLK day of service at Congregation B’nai Torah, and Purim with a Purpose at Gesher L’Torah. He will conduct synagogue educational programs, and his Tikkun Olam Project is scheduled for future services at Or Hadash and B’nai Torah.
Residents at a DeKalb County senior center were looking for a way to give back, so Fisher brought his leash-making program and a couple of therapy dogs to the facility. They would like him to return.
For the sake of clarity, there is no actual brick and mortar café. At least, not yet. Fisher hopes that one day, maybe in year three, there will be a nonprofit café at which to hold events, and possibly in year five, a small senior dog facility.
For now, “A café is a place where conversation happens,” said the soft-spoken Fisher. That discussion is one of the main reasons Aaron Fisher created Atlanta Rescue Dog Café. It appears to be working so far.
There are opportunities within the organization for both youth and adult ambassadors and volunteers. To help support the efforts of Atlanta Rescue Dog Café or to request programming, please go to: https://www.atlantarescuedogcafe.org.