Atlas Animal Rescue helps dogs in China and SLO County

When Emily Everett-Nelson started caring for husband Jessy Nelson after a motorcycle accident in 2016, she never expected to find a new calling in life.

But then she began volunteering at local shelters near her home in Southern California to seek respite from her new role as a caregiver – and she and her husband began to discover a passion for giving. a better life for rescued dogs.

“We both dealt with his accident in different ways,” Everett-Nelson told The Tribune in a July 18 interview. “I think for him it really calmed him down helping something else that needed.”

In 2020, Everett-Nelson created his own animal rescue – Atlas Animal Rescuea non-profit organization that matches dogs rescued from California and faraway places like China, Dubai and Romania with loving owners all over the United States.

The mission of the Paso Robles-based organization is to rehabilitate and rehouse dogs rescued from precarious conditions — from dogs that were on euthanasia lists in Southern California, to dogs that would otherwise have been part of the meat trade in China.

“We’re a very small animal shelter with big dreams,” Everett-Nelson said. “EEvery dog ​​that passes through us has such a unique story and past. And I think it’s pretty nice to have so many dogs that we host in different countries.

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Emily Everett-Nelson, the founder of Atlas Animal Rescue, currently in Paso Robles. Emily rescues dogs locally as well as slaughterhouses in China and elsewhere overseas to help them find homes. Emily’s husband, Jessy, watches their first dog, Bolt. Laura Dickinson [email protected]

So far, Atlas Animal Rescue has been able to save more than 75 dogs, Everett-Nelson said.

This growing organization has also received a lot of attention from animal lovers around the world after being featured on the the popular animal social media accountThe Dodo.

These rescues all occurred without shelter ownership. The rescue so far has relied entirely on foster families and donations, she said, although their ultimate goal is to build a shelter because having one will help Atlas rehabilitate further. more dogs.

“It’s hard to really branch out without having this physical place to take all these dogs,” Everett-Nelson said. “Foster families are increasingly difficult to find at the moment. Everyone is so busy and everything is constantly changing. It’s just a little harder to find those kinds of volunteers.

Paso Robles-based rescue saves dogs around the world

Everett-Nelson said one of the attributes that sets Atlas apart from other Central Coast rescues is that the nonprofit works with local and international dogs.

Atlas Animal Rescue has a partnership with Animal Rescue of Harbin Slaughterhouse Survivorsa animal shelter based in Harbin, China that rehabilitates dogs that would otherwise be part of the meat trade in China. After a period of rehabilitation, Slaughterhouse Survivors finds the dogs new homes overseas, Everett-Nelson said.

Through the partnership, Everett-Nelson said Atlas has rehabilitated and housed more than 30 dogs that were flown to the United States from China.

Just as the partnership was beginning to gain momentum, a government restriction put an end to the transfer of animals between the two countries.

In July 2021, the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has temporarily banned the importation of dogs from countries considered to be at high risk for rabies to the United States. China is on the list. The restriction was extended until January 2023 in June.

“As soon as I launched (in September 2020), my partners in China were like, ‘OK, this is our time. We can get so many dogs out of here, because we don’t know if the borders will reopen “, said Everett-Nelson. “It was madness. It was stressful at the time, but after thinking about it and seeing all those dogs in the most amazing homes…it’s just beautiful to see them all living their best lives after such a crazy launch.

Despite the slowdown in the number of dogs imported from China, Atlas has shifted gears to work with dogs rescued from other countries, Everett-Nelson said.

Atlas recently rescued a handful of dogs from Ukraine and Dubai, and also hope to welcome dogs from South Korea.

Animal Rescue is committed to saving local dogs for every international dog

Although Atlas has a global reach when it comes to rescuing puppies, the majority of dogs rescued by the rescue are from California. Atlas Animal Rescue has a two-to-one commitment, which means for every international dog they bring in, they rescue two local dogs, Everett-Nelson said.

Local dogs mostly come from overcrowded Southern California shelters like the County-run Devore Animal Shelter in San Bernardino.

Everett-Nelson said she typically works with overcrowded dog shelters from communities with lots of strays and surrenders. Dogs rescued from overcrowded shelters that would otherwise have been euthanized are moved to places without as many strays where it’s easier to find them homes, such as in San Luis Obispo County.

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Pictured is the Atlas Animal Rescue van. Laura Dickinson [email protected]

“(Some dog shelters in Southern California) just don’t have the finances and they don’t have the capacity to house all of these dogs there,” Everett-Nelson said. “So we usually drive over there, pick dogs that are going to be euthanized, bring them here and retrain them.”

Whether local or international, there are always a variety of dogs Atlas help – from abandoned puppies to dogs with special needs.

“We’ve had it all at this point,” Everett-Nelson said. “WWe’ve had dogs with serious medical issues, paralyzed dogs, three-legged dogs…it’s kind of a spectrum.

The shelter usually has about 10 dogs in foster homes, she said.

The rescue ensures that each dog is up to date on their vaccines and behaviorally and medically rehabilitated before being adopted, Everett-Nelson said.

Depending on the dog, this process may take a few weeks to a few month.

“We never want to rush it, we want to make sure they get proper rehabilitation,” she said. said. “We want to make sure we’re taking time with each dog and really using all the tools they need to find that forever home and to stay in that forever home.”

How to help Atlas Animal Rescue

The rescue center has three dogs up for adoption right now – Everest, an “easy-going” Siberian husky; Meryl, an “extremely loyal” 4-year-old, and Mike, an “extremely sweet” blind 4-year-old who “loves affection and attention,” according to the adoption site.

Someone who wants to adopt them can apply on the relief site. To help Atlas find a perfect furry friend match, potential adopters will be asked about their living situation. and life at work.

Another way to support rescue dogs is to encourage them. Since the rescue does not yet have a brick-and-mortar shelter, foster volunteers are especially important to fulfilling the rescue’s mission, Everett-Nelson said.

Everett-Nelson and her husband take in some of the dogs that require more handling experience, such as dogs with more behavioral issues, but temporary homes are still needed for some of the other rescued dogs.

“Even if someone is available to foster a dog, even for a weekend to a week, or whatever it takes for us to find a home for the dog, that’s huge,” Everett said- Nelson.

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Emily Everett-Nelson holds (left to right) Albus, Indie and Bolt. The new puppy, Waylon, is in the lap of her husband Jessy Nelson. Laura Dickinson [email protected]

Interested persons can apply for adoptive dogs for Atlas on the rescue website.

Meanwhile, donations help pay for rehabilitation, travel and medical costs for dogs in foster homes.

“That’s what keeps us going,” Everett-Nelson said. “We are entirely donation-based…so every donation counts. Every dollar donated goes directly to our dogs.

Donations will also help the rescue eventually build a local refuge, Everett-Nelson said.

“Over the next couple of years, we’re really trying to raise money for (the shelter),” Everett-Nelson said. “And get a property locally where people can come and visit and volunteer and be able to work with our dogs and meet our dogs because they’re not just from local places but from places around the world.”

Those interested in donating can do so via

This story was originally published August 11, 2022 5:00 a.m.

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Mariana Duran is a reporting intern at the San Luis Obispo Tribune. She is a double major in Media Studies and Cognitive Science at Pomona College.

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