Sex Trafficking In Atlanta Is A Huge Deal

Human sex trafficking is a huge issue in our American society, but we don’t hear about it nearly enough. In a 2016 survey, Atlanta was the second largest city to have sex trafficking calls (per capita) at 317,000 people. I’ve lived right on the border of Atlanta since 2015 and I’ve only started seeing sex trafficking billboards in the past few months. This wasn’t something that happened overnight, this has been growing while most of us weren’t even aware of it.

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In 2018 alone, there was 157 human trafficking cases alone and 65 calls from survivors. To make it scarier, there was even a case in the county I live in. There was a 15-year-old girl who had escaped after being forced to have sex with three men prior to calling authorities. She had been forced to have sex every single day for three days in August. Just last month, my county ordered a “court-approved agreement” to the hotel the girl had been at to make changes to avoid losing the property. The county is making some strides in the right direction, but what about our capital?

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Atlanta is home to many conventions, whether it be for sports or music or cosplay. It’s a great place to express yourself and find fun activities. Of course, this comes with a price. These huge events are susceptible to sex trafficking since there are so many people that are there and so many that come from out of town. A study from 2014 stated that Atlanta was once the number one spot for sex trafficking and that around 300 young girls are trafficked every single month. Despite this, there was an event recently that had a large number of sex trafficking. You probably guessed it: The Super Bowl.

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The Super Bowl 53 was held this month in Atlanta and authorities alerted everyone to stay inside as much as possible because of the sex trafficking. Of course, it was inevitable to stay inside constantly during the hectic few weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. During the 11 days leading up to the Super Bowl, 169 people were arrested for involvement in sex trafficking, where 26 were actual sex traffickers.

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While I may be late in the day, today (Feburary 7th, 2019) is Shine A Light On Slavery Day. A movement called End It has been huge in informing the public on the realities of sex trafficking. They use donations to fund projects to end sex trafficking around the globe, so if you can help out please do. There are also other organizations that can be found in Atlanta, such as Out Of Darkness and Tabitha’s House. There are other resources you can learn about of course but here is one example. Stay alert, look out for one another and stay informed.

River the Rescue

There are many stigmas held against rescue dogs that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Some of the stigmas people may believe is that, rescue dogs can not be trained and will have behavioral issues. Another is that rescue dogs can’t be purebreds. The final, and largest, stigma is that rescue dogs are given up because there is something wrong with them. In reality, most dogs are given up to shelters because of moving, personal issues, no room, financial reasons or even lack of time. Some of the dogs in shelters have lived a hard life and have a rough and abusive past, but that does not mean the dog is “broken”. Take River for example.

River’s Story

River waiting for treats.

River, a two-year-old Black Mouth Cur mix, was rescued by Jill and Jay Waddell, when she was just six months old. River had gone through some difficult things in her short life. River originally came from an abusive and neglectful situation, spending most of her life in a crate, without any bonds with humans or dogs. When she was rescued from that situation and brought to a shelter, she faced several families who adopted her and then quickly returned her. It can be assumed that it was due to the fact that River needed some extra time and attention.

Jill and Jay met River and ended up adopting her and renamed her River to stick the theme of their previous two dogs named Canoe and Kayak! They were a little wary at first after hearing how families had brought her back, as anyone would be. They soon realized why she had been brought back and started to fit the puzzle pieces of her past together.

River started out pretty aggressive. While she never hurt anyone, she would bite their clothes and pull or jump all over them. They observed this behavior mainly in the backyard. This led them to believe that her crate had been in the backyard. She would also start to panic whenever there was any sort of yard equipment in her rescuer’s hands, such as a rake. This led them to believe that River had been previously been abused with yard tools. River also liked to lick anything metal, which they assumed was a form of her self comforting, since most of her life at that point had been in a metal cage.

River  had no concept of how to be a “normal” domesticated pup. She didn’t know how to play and did not know how to act around people or dogs. Jill and Jay eventually went to a trainer for help with helping River. The approach of the first trainer was not a good fit, which involved reacting to the negative behavior in a negative/ punitive way.  Instead, they discovered the best way to deal with the aggressive behavior which was River’s fear reaction was through love. Whenever River got riled up, they would sit with her and just hold her tight–even when she would try to wiggle out, they showed River that, no matter what, she had a family who unconditionally loved her and would always be there for her. She would softly tell her nice things and showered her in love. She would do this as long as twenty minutes until River felt safe enough.

River Today

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River being patient.

Fast forward to now, River is a completely different dog, even though she is still a work in progress. She is only two years old, so she still has quite a bit of energy. She has even received the title of being the business partner in the organization of the Rescue Dog Olympics in Atlanta. “She doesn’t have any actual assistant responsibilities,” Jill had joked. However, River’s job does entail lots of emotional support and snuggles. She is constantly loving on her family as well as everyone else. She also loves to run, play with toys and now knows how to have fun with other dogs. Just by giving River the love that she so desperately wanted and some extra time and care, Jill and Jay were able to completely transform her into a beloved member of the family.

At the moment, Jill is training River to become a therapy dog for chronically ill children.  She says that because River has so much love to give to others that she would make a great therapy dog to those in need. River still has a lot of work to do, since she still has so much energy and loves to jump on people to show her love, but will still make a great therapy dog in time.

River’s Impact

River is just one example of the countless rescue dog stories being made every single day. Rescuing a dog from a shelter as opposed to buying one directly from a breeder has so many benefits. By rescuing a dog saves two lives: the life of the dog rescued and the life of another dog in need that can now come to the shelter due to the open space. Most rescues are already spayed or neutered and even microchipped. Most adult dogs are already potty-trained and with a rescue, the workers will be able to tell you about the dog’s unique personality. According to the ASPCA, about 3.3 million dogs are brought into rescue shelters while 1.6 million dogs are adopted each year. By adopting a rescue, you can help shelters bring in more dogs that are in need and keep the euthanization rates low.

Rescue dogs have so much potential that more people need to see, which is a reason Jill started the Rescue Dog Olympics in Atlanta. It’s a dog lovin’ festival and dog party on Sunday, March 10, 2019 in Piedmont Park.  It’s a chance for people to do something fun with their dogs and for families looking to adopt to meet some great rescue organizations and find their new family member. It’s a way to spread awareness to the greatness inside every rescue dog and to show just how much they deserve to be loved for their entire lives.