Like any local celebrity, AC is a pillar of the community, doing good deeds, attending cultural galas, participating in parades and judging a pet fashion show at Macon’s biggest bash of the year, the Cherry Blossom Festival. Most of all, AC takes every opportunity to raise awareness around the community to support his pet cause. Literally.
AC, which stands for Animal Control, is the most famous dog in Central Georgia—and the busiest.
His full name is AC Pup, and his "pet cause" is to help reduce the number of homeless and abused pets in Macon through educating the public, low-cost spay and neuter clinics, fighting dog fighting and other animal abuse, and encouraging residents to adopt homeless pets.
Along with his trusty sidekick and spokesperson, Macon Animal Control Officer Van VanDeWalker, AC visits with thousands of school children every year to help them understand that pets should be treated with respect and kindness. Part of being kind to pets is not to let them have unwanted babies that can wind up at the shelter.
AC educates the public about caring properly for their pets. His message to students is to make sure their pet has food and water, gets its shots and is not tied up outdoors all the time. Like AC Pup, all pets should be considered members of the family and treated well.
At school assemblies, AC shows children how to properly approach a dog, and also shows them how to properly receive kisses. AC delivers thousands and thousands of kisses to demonstrate the joy of loving a pet and being loved in return.
AC has never received formal training as a service or therapy dog, but seems to have learned from experience how to behave around children, adults and other animals.
"The thing is, he was spoiled rotten," VanDeWalker said. The shelter staff, he said, "let AC get away with murder." Although AC doesn't get spoiled at home, the loving treatment he's received since that cold day three years ago seems to have made him both approachable and sensitive to others.
“The neat thing about AC,” VanDeWalker said, “is that he understands when a child is special needs. He is always very careful with children who have any type of challenge, even if that challenge isn’t visible to you or me.”
Central Georgia CARES is AC Pup’s personal public relations firm, formed to handle fund-raising, schedule photo ops and public appearances, enlist volunteers and carry out the Snipper Committee’s regular spay-neuter clinics.
AC has also visited city council and county commission meetings. CARES and AC Pup instituted a monthly Summit for the Animals to help bring diverse rescue groups, shelter staff, animal professionals and animal lovers together.
The summits are open to the public and allow the various groups and individuals to work on finding new ways to end the problem of homeless, abused and unwanted pets in Middle Georgia.
AC has three Facebook pages, his own website. and his own email address. Using those social networking tools, he has rallied the community to help find lost pets, networked to save pets in danger at Animal Control, and kept thousands of his fans informed on upcoming events and pet care issues. AC has his own weekly column in The Macon Telegraph, too.
When AC and CARES threw a party at the animal shelter to celebrate his third birthday recently, AC asked on his Facebook pages that guests bring food and treats for his Pound Pals instead of gifts just for him. The response was overwhelming, with guests donating hundreds of pounds of dog food, dog treats, cat litter and cat food along with other items needed at the shelter.
AC did manage to sneak over and swipe a dog treat out of one of the bags, but the rest was distributed to the shelter and local rescue groups that work so hard to save animals from the shelter.
He got a few presents from family and friends, plus some cake and ice cream, so all in all, he had a great time, according to VanDeWalker.
Watch the video with AC Pup and Van VanDeWalker to hear more about AC’s incredible journey from a frozen puppy no one expected to survive to prominent community activist and icon for humane pet treatment and rescue.