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Vet Gives Animals a Second Chance

While some veterinarians take in strays and give them medical help, Dr. Michael Good has taken the idea to a new level.

Dogs bark. Phones ring.

There's an antiseptic smell in the air. An injured pit bull, with a huge plastic collar, skids across the floor as his owner tries to coax him toward a room.

A visitor tells someone she is waiting on Dr. Michael Good. The reply: "Good luck."

Good talks fast and conducts his business at the same time. He sits briefly in his closet-sized office—the visitor has to sit outside to talk to him—at the Town & Country Veterinary Clinic, located off Gresham Road in East Cobb.

While some veterinarians take in strays and give them medical help, Good, 58, has taken the idea to a whole new level.

He started the Homeless Pet Foundation in 1998 as a means to find homes for stray animals, a population that grows every year. The animals are pictured on the website, along with their story, and you can adopt, sponsor or simply donate money to help them. 

Good, who runs his hand through his thick, gray hair as he talks, has agreements with several shelters to sponsor dogs and cats that are about to be euthanized.

"You need to walk Sassy," he says to someone passing by. "Get her something to eat."

A motionless black lab with a plastic tube attached to his mouth lies on an operating table five feet away.

Good, who grew up in South Bend, IN, is a former director of the Fulton County animal shelter. He saw the certain fate injured animals face.

"We take all the hard-luck cases," he said. "It's not just cute and fuzzy."

An employee walks by with a partially shaved calico cat with stitches.

He has lots of volunteers—he could of course use more—and he provides vet services as his part of the deal.

Good's office in Marietta is one of seven he owns or partners in with other veterinarians. But his practice and his passion often intermingle.

He's quick to say his office is no animal shelter. But in the next breath, he lets an employee take a handsome shepherd mix that someone found back to the kennel.

"That's a very adoptable dog," he says.

His foundation has two sponsorship programs. One is for schools, and one is for businesses. Sixty-plus "clubs" have tried to find homes for the pets through the years. The foundation has found 700 to 800 homes for the animals.

Just then, a bug-eyed, yippy, little black dog goes by in the arms of another veterinarian. Another dog bit his eye off, "and I put it back in," the guy says.

Once the animals are chosen from the website and an agreement is reached, the groups start to "rock and roll," Good says. A no-kill sign is placed on the animal's cage at the shelter.

And off they go. Club volunteers email people they know, hand out fliers, send texts—whatever it takes. Once the animal finds a home, Good and his folks throw the club a party.

Good starts to put on his jacket to leave so he can come back later—he has a horrible cold—but is caught by someone wanting to know about a dog brought in that morning.

Town & Country is open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

"It's kind of like a dairy farm around here," Good says as he scrawls his signature on some checks.

Another aspect of his adoption foundation is the underhound railroad, in which dogs are shipped from the area to other places in the country or Canada that don't have as many strays. Some no-kill shelters are only half-full, Good says.

He has six dogs of his own. All strays.

"I've seen what happens to these dogs," he says of some shelters, "and it's not pretty."

It's Good's hope that by sponsoring with the schools and businesses, he's giving something to those involved too.

He wants "to bring some compassion into this world we're in."

Good, who went to the University of Georgia veterinary school, has been in Marietta since 1979. Single, he lives just off the square. His son is in practice with him.

While he can bark orders like nobody's business, he's a softy at heart.

"I like to tell people I was an animal lover before I became a vet."

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