Deborah Smith has been working to help rescue abandoned and homeless animals in North Fulton County area and beyond for the past six years.
The former Johns Creek resident (she now resides in Roswell) was working as senior director of Government Relations and Public Affairs for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals when she decided to attend a three-day rescue course sponsored by the Atlanta Humane Society. Smith received her certification as an animal rescue worker three days before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005.
“I was immediately asked to join the disaster rescue team of the American Humane Association, and Pfizer provided a paid administrative leave for me to deploy to New Orleans for several weeks. It was a brutal, difficult and ultimately inspiring experience … and launched me on the path to being an animal rescue volunteer.”
Closer to home, Smith began helping out with weekend adoption events sponsored by a small rescue organization and eventually ended up with the Angels Among Us Pet Rescue non-profit group, where up until recently she coordinated the cat program.
Although active in dog rescue efforts, Smith had begun to focus on cat rescue. “Cats face an even bleaker future than their dog counterparts in county shelters, and it is seems more acceptable to some people to forego spaying and neutering for their cats,” Smith explains.
In the midst of her volunteer work, Smith began to think about leaving Pfizer to devote herself completely to animal rescue. She took early retirement to pursue what she says seemed like “more and more like a calling.”
Smith says, “Almost overnight I went from participating in events and meetings with members of Congress, governors and state legislators to cleaning litter boxes and hauling cages to adoption events. But I never looked back and never regretted my decision to take this path.”
And now, Smith finds herself back at the Atlanta Humane Society, the same place where she received that rescue certification six years ago that launched her pet rescue endeavors. She recently accepted a position as the organization’s Director of Community Relations at the society’s future North Fulton campus in Alpharetta
Smith says she feels like she’s come full circle, as now she will be helping others get on the volunteer track.
“Rescue work is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s a 24/7 endeavor, and the animals never take a day off,” Smith says. Yet, “the rewards of animal rescue to make it all worthwhile. To rescue a litter of three-week-old kittens from certain death, and to ultimately see them adopted into loving homes is a wonderful thing. To observe a frightened and confused cat in a crowded and noisy animal shelter, and to ultimately see him happily ensconsed with a new family, is tremendously rewarding. And that’s why we do it…”