The Good Doctor

Marietta veterinarian is on a mission to find forever homes for all homeless pets 

By Stacey L. Evans | Photography by Samantha Shal

Dr. Good is a man that lives up to his name.

The affable veterinarian is a hero among pets and animal lovers in the south. Over his decades as a veterinarian, he has touched countless lives — human, canine, feline and fowl (and probably a few reptiles, too). He has garnered awards and grants for his charity work and organizations, including being named Huffington Post’s Greatest Person of the Week in 2012. He is currently being pursued by Animal Planet to host a TV show. His Homeless Pets Foundation has found forever homes for over 15,000 animals since it was founded in 1998. The offshoot, Homeless Pet Clubs, is a phenomenal program that is spreading across the nation and already garnering acclaim. His passion is evident when he talks about his beloved animals — and to Dr. Michael Good, every animal is beloved. He is quick to quote studies touting the health benefit of having pets and how animals teach children many life lessons — he is a nonstop voice for the plight of homeless cats and dogs.

Six dogs and two cats have the privilege of spending every day with Dr. Good in his Marietta home, which is in walking distance from his clinic, Town & Country Veterinary Clinic. All of the pets were rescued from his organization. The cats, Rudy and Mystique, have feline AIDS. They are very loving, sweet cats, he said. When Dr. Good gets home in the evening, he spends time with the cats, the ‘adults’ as he calls them, before letting the young dogs run loose. A house full of animals keeps him entertained.

“I’m thinking about canceling my cable because I have so much fun with my animals,” he said. “The reason why we love dogs and cats … dogs especially always have this great attitude, no matter how bad of a day you’ve had. It’s like every day is Christmas when you get home from work; they are so happy to see you. It puts you in a good mood. Dogs love and protect. If anyone tried to hurt me, [my dogs] would have none of it. They would take a bullet for me.”

Two of his dogs, Harley and Tess, were rescued by him 14 years ago. The pit mixes, who were less than a year old at the time, were used as bait dogs. They were brought to the Fulton County animal shelter, where Dr. Good served as medical director for almost two years in the late 90s.

“The dogs were shredded to pieces,” he said. Normally, injured dogs would have been immediately euthanized under the previous administration’s policies. But the recently hired Dr. Good and the group that took over wanted to end the practice. He took the puppies to his clinic in Marietta and nursed them back to health.

When he was hired as medical director in Fulton, Dr. Good was hit with a devastating reality. At the time, the shelter was euthanizing over 90 percent of the animals it received. Several animals were cherry-picked to be sent out to adoption facilities, but most were tossed aside like trash. He was hired when the shelter was working to change, but it was a slow process. Dr. Good was asked to euthanize the animals on occasion. He would spend time petting and talking to them, to show them love in their final hours. And he made them a promise.

“I said I’m going to find a solution because this is ridiculous. I promised I would find a solution,” he said.

He began taking the injured animals to his clinic in Marietta to patch them up and make them adoptable. He worked seven days a week during his stint there. His tireless devotion saved a thousand dogs and cats. But for him, it was not enough.

“I was bound and determined I was going to save them all. We’re talking about millions of dogs and cats — that’s how many are put to sleep in our country each year,” he said.

He organized a group of fellow animal lovers to form the Homeless Pets Foundation, which provides emergency veterinarian care, neuter/spay services, vaccinations and other health care to rehabilitate and socialize abused, neglected and abandoned animals, and then find them forever homes. The organization quickly grew as word spread about his efforts to save all animals. He had to purchase property in West Cobb to provide a sanctuary for all the animals.

The foundation also operates what Dr. Good calls the Underhound Railroad. Unwanted dogs from the south are taken up north, where the demand for pets is greater than the number in shelters.

“So instead of being put to sleep in the south, they are living in penthouses in Manhattan,” he said with a smile.

Now he is on a mission to spread the word about the Homesless Pet Clubs, which he thinks is the answer to lowering the euthanization rate among shelter animals. Though great strides have been made in recent years, over 2.7 million cats and dogs are euthanized each year in the U.S., according to the Humane Society.

How Homeless Pet Clubs work:

A group (class, school, organization or small business) forms a club and partners with a local shelter or animal rescue organization. They choose an animal to ‘sponsor’ and then spread the word about that animal to help it get adopted. The clubs use flyers, social media and word of mouth to promote the homeless pet. Along with that, they are promoting animal rescue, responsible pet ownership, adoption of shelter animals, and animal welfare. It is free to join. Clubs may choose to raise money for the shelter they support or the foundation, but the purpose is to spread the word about adoptable animals.

Dr. Good’s goal is to get active clubs in all schools across the nation because he believes children’s love for animals is the answer. And the clubs, in turn, have many benefits for children, Dr. Good says.

The clubs teach empathy and responsibility, and are empowering for children. They give the children a purpose and show how they can make a difference — not only in the life of the dog or cat, but the person who adopts the pet.

“So now these kids have a sense of accomplishment,” said Dr. Good. “We tell them, ‘because you cared about that animal, now it has a great home. You should be so proud of yourself.’ So now they feel empowered. For a lot of kids, they can take that a long way.”

Homeless Pet Clubs are the easy answer for any animal lover who wants to help, said Dr. Good. You may not have time to volunteer, money to donate or energy to adopt your own pet. But anyone can share on social media and spread the word about homeless pets.

For more information: www.homelesspets.com; 770-971-0100
Adoptable animals can be found at Town & Country Veterinary Clinic at 1343 Gresham Road in Marietta. Saturday and Sunday events are held at the East Cobb and Smyrna Pet Smart locations. Call for details.

Why pets are good for you:
Countless studies have shown that forming an emotional bond with a pet has numerous physical and psychological benefits, including:
> lowers risk of heart disease
> lowers blood pressure
> less likely to be depressed
> children learn important life skills from bonding with a pet

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