Grace, a dog that became a symbol of resilience when it survived a Liberty County gas chamber and inspired the Georgia General Assembly to outlaw chamber euthanasia in 2010, will return to the area this week.
And she will be escorted by a caravan of more than 50 animal rights activists on an awareness campaign.
The group, known as the Amazing Grace Caravan and coordinated through Animal Aid USA, will host a 10 a.m. meet and greet Saturday at the Savannah Technical College Liberty Campus before walking to the animal shelter to get animals that they are rescuing.
Saturday afternoon, the group will also host a free barbecue at the Miracle Ranch, a five-acre spread near Ludowici that the nonprofit group MOMS (Making of Miracle Stories) Rescue purchased to use as a quarantine facility.
“If you love animals, and you want to help make a difference, come on out to a free barbecue, meet us all and just network with us and enjoy an afternoon … we don’t want it to just be us having a barbecue, it’s open to the entire public,” MOMS Rescue founder Karen Talbot said.
To start the New Jersey to Georgia trek, a number of pooches plucked from Hinesville will gather in Atlantic City to watch a ceremonial wedding ceremony between Grace and a recent Alabama gas chamber survivor, Daniel the Beagle.
“It’s just the story of two survivors going on to potentially change the course of history for shelter animals,” Talbot said.
But Talbot and local group Carpathia Paws have teamed since January 2011 to change history for more than 800 local pups that have been placed in homes all along the Eastern Seaboard.
Liberty County Assistant County Administrator Bob Sprinkel told the county commission about the event Tuesday and emphasized that Prince Lorenzo Borghese, a 2006 contestant of NBC’s “The Bachelor” will travel with the group.
Borghese is the co-founder Animal Aid USA along with Talbot, according to the group’s site.
“This is no cost to us,” Sprinkel said. “They’re doing this, and it’s helping us out, and it’s helping the animals and it’s a good thing … They have made a huge dent in the number of animals that we have had to euthanize.”
Carpathia Paws pulls animals from the animal control facility and often places them in foster homes until the MOMS Rescue takes the animals to several rescue groups between here and New Jersey about once every month.
Carpathia Paws founder Meike Wilder is currently managing the Miracle Ranch, which can serve as a temporary home for pets in between animal control and their northern destinations. Talbot said five couples provided $39,000 to purchase the bank-owned property earlier this year.
This time, the group anticipates taking 100 animals up north, Talbot said.
In addition to placing the animals in homes, the group is also striving to outlaw gas-chamber euthanasia in 31 other states where it is allowed, according to a press release.
“If Georgia can change their laws with gas chambers, the rest of the country should follow suit,” Talbot said. “Our goal was to make a significant difference in the life of one shelter, and we far exceeded that — Now we’re making the difference in the life of one town, then we’re going to do one state, then we’re going to do one country and one world.”
Amazing Grace Caravan agenda
On Saturday, the caravan will hold the following events, which are open to the public:
• 10 a.m. – Public meet and greet at Savannah Tech Liberty Campus north end parking lot
• 11 a.m. – Caravan and public walk from SavTech to the Liberty County Animal Shelter
• 11:45 a.m. – Animals to be rescued will meet with the group at the animal shelter
• 4:30 p.m. – Purina Pro Plan Rally and public barbecue at the Miracle Ranch, 194 Hugh Gordon Lane, Ludowici