She Is Saving Shelter Dogs and Helping Bobcats Too!

( Tina and George Skestos are Pictured Above.  Photo Courtesy of columbusfoundation.org )

From a young age, Tina Skestos has been a pioneer of creating positive change. She was the first woman to graduate from the world’s oldest Master of Sports Administration program at Ohio University.

Today, she and her husband, George, operate a veterinary and resource network for dogs in Colombus, Ohio unlike anything else currently available in the United States.

Gigi's lighting the way for sheltered animals. Photo credit: Gigis.org

When Gigi’s was founded in 2018, Skestos’ goal was to address shelter overcrowding concerns for dogs. She noted that they lacked access to veterinary care across the state, so the model she implemented locally is something that others could replicate throughout the country.

At Gigi’s, homeless dogs come from underfunded community shelters throughout the region. They offer complete veterinary services, no-cost temporary housing, and behavioral training. Once they’re ready to find a new home, Skestos works to match the dogs to  an appropriate family to go home with. [1]

“It is a passion project with my husband where we combine our desire to save dogs and make lasting change for future generations,” said Skestos. “We’re creating new lives for both people and dogs.”

Over 6,000 Rural Dogs Receive Help Each Year

Gigi’s is a sprawling six-acre complex with a state-of-the-art, 26,000-square-foot facility that includes three buildings that help dogs get healthy as they prepare for adoption.

“We have three staff veterinarians that focus on reducing stress and minimizing disease to help our shelter pups a home quickly while supporting their health,” said Skestos.

More than 6,000 shelter dogs receive assistance through this program each year. Since its founding, Skestos’ team has provided canine vaccines, performed spay and neuter operations, and even treated bullet wounds. The goal is always the same: to give a shelter dog what they need to get ready to go home. [2]

The facility and care that Gigi's provides. Photo credit: Gigis.org

“I’ve had dogs all my life, ever since I was three years old,” said her husband, George.

“We’re not in this business to make money. We’re here to help the dogs.”


Gigi’s is named after the family Akita. “I just wanted to do something for them.”

Tina comes from a similar background. “I can recall my mother always taking in stray dogs from the street to become the next member of the family,” she said. “We’re making sure that no one, dog or human, is denied a second chance.” [3]

Visitors Can Pick the Dogs They’d Like to Meet

The entire adoption process can be started online for those interested in helping the shelter dogs at Gigi’s. The Adopt Me page on their website has numerous smiling faces that would love to meet their forever people.

Applications must be submitted to begin the process, which includes a questionnaire. Once the paperwork is reviewed and approved, Gigi’s will contact you by email to schedule a meet-and-greet session with one of their puppy graduates.

“Our mission is to take homeless dogs that might spend months in a shelter and get them to healthy, loving, and happy forever homes within two weeks,” said Tina.

Dogs from rural counties are four times less likely to find homes when they become homeless than those with families in the suburbs or the city. Gigi’s usually has 20 to 30 potential family members waiting to meet you! [4]

Take Your Dog to Gigi’s for a Little Training

As part of their service package, anyone in the area can sign up for dog training classes if their family member could use a few skills or manners. Their four-class puppy preschool is perfect for those eight to 14 weeks old.

There’s also a 60-minute skills and manners class that operates across six sessions that works well for fully vaccinated dogs at least 15 weeks old.

Gigi's delivers private consultation and training services if your dog isn’t a fan of being social. This service works well for families that prefer a custom approach or more individualized attention.

How Skestos is Helping the Bobcats Too

No – Skestos isn’t housing bobcats with dogs at her facility through Gigi’s! Ohio University’s mascot is the bobcat, and she’s established the Justine Skestos Scholarship there. It provides full funding support to students in the graduate sports administration program.

Skestos calls it her way of paying things forward for the support she received while a student there. “Without the money I received, I wouldn’t have been able to pay my way through the program,” she said. “I wanted to give back so future students could live their dreams.”

It’s not just the scholarship program that Skestos emphasized for the institutions. She’s also paid back the assistance money in full, plus more, as a way to thank them for what she received. “My education let me be successful professionally, which enabled me to pursue Gigi’s charitable mission.”

Gigi's relies on everyone's generosity to continue serving homeless dogs that would thrive in a forever home. You can provide eight vaccines for just $5 per month to help them become healthier. More information is available on the non-profit’s donations page.



[1] https://www.ohio.edu/news/2022/12/ohio-alumnas-generosity-transforms-lives-shelter-dogs-and-bobcats-too [2] https://columbusfoundation.org/stories-of-impact/setting-the-gold-standard [3] https://www.wardrobetherapyllc.com/women-we-love-tina-skestos/ [4] https://www.aspca.org/helping-people-pets/shelter-intake-and-surrender/pet-statistics