Pet owners from all around DeKalb descended upon Shoal Creek Park II in Decatur in cars and on foot Saturday, many bringing more than one pet, a few bringing four or five. Many came early, lining up well before the event was set to begin at 9 a.m.
Due to a generous grant from Anne Cox Chambers administered through Fix Georgia Pets and with additional funding from the Atlanta ResponsiBully Coalition and DeKalb County Animal Services, LifeLine was able to offer free services to DeKalb's pet parents including rabies and distemper vaccinations and free spay and neuter surgeries.
By 10 a.m. over 500 pets were either in line or in process of getting the free services. When supplies ran low almost 400 more pet owners put their name on a waiting list for future low and no-cost pet health services.
Free pet food was given to DeKalb pet owners, supplied by Pet Buddies Food Pantry and Inman Park Pet Works. New leashes and collars were given to pets who needed them, donated by Inman Park Pet Works and Intown Healthy Hound.
Several hundred dogs, excited by the proximity of so many other animals, were active and vocal, a few attempting to play with the dogs next to them in line.
Of the over 100 cats who were brought by their owners, most were calm, save one who bolted from his carrier early and another who disappeared under the dashboard of his owner's car and refused to budge.
LifeLine always encourages pet owners to make sure cats are in a secure carrier when brought to public events. Staff supplied cat owners at the park with plastic ties to temporarily "lock" carriers for the animal's safety.
Volunteers grilled hot dogs for the crowd and free water and sodas were also offered to those waiting in line.
DeKalb Police kept car traffic moving in the parking lot and on Glendale Road. As the morning wore on the event took on the party atmosphere of a large family picnic where pets outnumbered the people.
As activities wound down around 2 p.m. volunteers chowed down on pizza donated by Pizzeria Venti and LifeLine staff voiced their appreciation of DeKalb pet owners for coming and waiting in line, all in the interest of taking care of their companion animals.
"We really appreciate everyone who came out today and made this event such a success," said Debbie Setzer, LifeLine's community outreach director. "We hope to do this again DeKalb and plan to do similar outreach events in other counties as soon as we are able to do so."