For many people, pets are much more than four paws and a tail — they’re a treasured member of the family. It’s something that Caroline Blackshear and the rest of the No Kill Glynn County’s (NKGC) volunteers believe wholeheartedly. So when they heard the story of a local family forced to give up their beloved dog, Gotti, they mobilized to help.

“Gotti is a blue pitbull terrier who has severe allergies that caused his major skin issues. His family took him to a local veterinarian for treatment without real results and tried everything that they could think of and afford to get him relief from his allergies,” she said.

“Gotti’s entire body was inflamed. His hair all fell out. He was miserable. His owners have been affected financially by COVID-19 and reluctantly surrendered him to Glynn County Animal Control because they could not afford to care for him and could not stand to watch him suffer. They did not know what else to do.”

Blackshear says that the group immediately reached out to Gotti’s owners and asked if they would take him back, provided the nonprofit assisted with medical costs.

“They immediately said, ‘Yes, we love him so much!,’” Blackshear said.

The family went and retreived Gotti and met volunteers from NKGC at the Pet Doctor in Brunswick. Dr. Nicola Overman and her staff treated him while the nonprofit helped pick up the tab.

Of course, they were only able to step in thanks to dontations from dedicated supporters. Some funds are gifted through the group’s website — nokillglynncounty.org. Others are collected at various community fundraisers. Some are made for specific cases, like Gotti, or go toward a general operations fund. The gifts proved lifechanging for Gotti and his family.

Today, both the pooch and his pet parents are grateful for the outcome.

“He is continuing to heal and everyone, including Gotti, is so glad he is home. It is no reason for them to have to give up their best friend,” she said.

“We are also helping them with Gotti’s food while they are working to get back on their feet. Kindness and compassion always win. This is just one example of many we could list involving both dogs and cats.”

The nonprofit continues to aid pet retention and work toward an overall no kill status for the community.

That was the goal when the organization was first co-founded by Shelly Bydlinkski in 2013. Now, she serves as president and her vision remains a critical compass for the mission.

“She is, and always has been, the driving force behind the organization. Her boots on the ground attitude and everyday way of life exemplifies for all the volunteers how to get things done and save lives in the process,” Blackshear said.

NKGC continues to fight euthanasia and instead find loving homes for animals in need. To do that, the group has two sub-categories of volunteers — one for cats and kittens and another for dogs.

It’s a piece that has evolved over time. First, NKGC developed an effective trap, neuter and release program, which saved the lives of hundreds of feral cats. They also partner with the Brunswick PetSmart to showcase felines available for adoption.

More recently, NKGC’s work expanded, offering more aid to dogs.

“We have always stepped up to help dogs as we could, but about a year ago, we were able to really up our game where the dogs are concerned. New volunteers came on the scene that were ready, willing and able to walk the dogs at GCAC and help with pulling them into our rescue as well as getting them to vet appointments, fosters and out-of-state rescuers and adopters.”

These dedicated pup fans are known as the “dog girls.”

Naturally, this requires a lot of time and coordination, but Blackshear notes, the payoff is well worth the effort.

“We have a truly amazing team,” she said. “We all have at least one dog that was either adopted from GCAC to save its life or taken in off the street to keep it from going to (animal control).”

Blackshear and the other volunteers are hopeful that, over time, the community can work toward that coveted “no kill” status — for both cats and dogs.

It’s a difficult charge to meet. And while strides have been made over the past few years, NKGC still holds hope for more positive movement.

“It takes commitment on both sides and life saving policy changes within our county government,” Blackshear said.

“We are still hoping that our Glynn County Board Of Commissioners will see all that we have and continue to do in this community and finally embrace the only humane model there in animal sheltering. It would be our dream come true to truly become partners in saving lives.”

For more information about their work, visit their website nokillglynncounty.org or the group’s Facebook page.

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