Oregon Public House Event

Today the PAW Team is at the Oregon Public House - we're not treating any animals, but earning money for the pets!

Pints for PAW Team is an all day event from 12:00 noon to 11:00 p.m. OPH is the world's first non-profit pub. It's family-friendly, and donates a portion of proceeds to charities. Today the PAW Team is the beneficiary. Staff and volunteers will be your wait staff. We'll have a silent auction, raffle prizes, door prizes and our cool new PAW Team t shirts for sale.

Come and raise a pint - or a soda - and help the pets by joining us in the air conditioned comfort of the Oregon Public House for lunch, dinner, happy hour, or a cool beverage on a super hot day! 

TV coverage for PAW Team

Channel 2 television came to our August clinic and did a nice segment on the PAW Team. Since this aired we've had dozens of calls from people in need looking for veterinary services and some inquiries from folks who want to help. Spread the word! Forward this to your friends, Tweet, and "like" us on Facebook so we can help more people and pets.

Spending his birthday at PAW Team

The day before a PAW Team clinic at Front Avenue is always busy, energetic and gathers people that love animals and care about those less fortunate together.

We're volunteer-based and clinic prep brings lots of our amazing volunteers. It never ceases to amaze me how happy people are to give up a nice, sunny Saturday to clean, sort, organize, put up tents, assemble paperwork and other non-glamorous tasks. Individuals, couples on a "do good day" date, and families pitch in.

One of our great volunteers (Kim Morris is in fact Volunteer of the Month!) brought two of her kids, Cambrie and Cameron, with her to help set up for the clinic. Cameron wanted to spend his twelfth birthday doing something with his mom and helping others. His present is giving to others. That's not the usual thing for which kids ask for their birthday!



The last step in a great success story

Yesterday Joann came into the office to prequalify for our services. She had heard about us through Central City Concern and after four long years on a waiting list was getting into housing. She needed one last thing to get into their housing program with Zoe, her beloved dog - vaccinations, flea control and a license.

Joann and Zoe will be at the clinic this weekend, completing that final step toward getting into housing. The journey for them was long and harrowing. Today Joann is clean and sober, thanks in a large way to Zoe. At age 15, Joann got into drugs. She left home, hit the streets and for 25 years lived in doorways, under bridges, on other people's couches and in shelters. Zoe came into her shattered life about five years ago and slowly began to change the way Joann thought about herself.

"I wanted to take care of her" she told me. "I didn't care about myself but Zoe needed to be warm and safe and have food so I started looking for help". The turning point when Joann decided to get clean and sober was after sleeping in a doorway both she and her dog got terrible spider bites. "That was it. We were both covered with bites. I got help that day."

Our Partner Agency Network connects folks that are homeless, in transition from homelessness - like Joann - and people living in extreme poverty with our veterinary services. We give them vaccinations, medical exams, prescriptions, food, supplies and a lot of TLC to keep pets healthy and keep pets and their people together.

The Human Equation

PAW Team is the only agency that helps both people and pets. Our mission is to help keep pets and their people together during the most difficult times of their lives by providing free veterinary care to the pets of people that are homeless or living in extreme poverty.

Every day we get dozens of calls from people desperately looking for help. There are hundreds of exceptional human service agencies in our area that assist the same population we do but their resources only go so far. Many people consider companion animals to be "luxuries". Yet for many their pets are far from luxuries, they are the only thing that grounds them, gives them a reason to get up every morning and keeps them focused on moving forward. For a few people we serve, their pets are even more - they are essential survival partners.

Consider our clients "Mike" and his family. Mike is working hard to keep his family together and while they still have a roof over their heads they're living on the edge - the "working poor". Mike also has two pre-teen boys, both with autism. Their beloved family dog "Boots", has cancer on his paw and needs to have a toe amputated but the surgery is far too expensive for the struggling family. Yet Boots means the world to them all, and particularly to the boys who have an exceptionally strong attachment to the dog. Boots calms them, helps them to socialize and when the their dad has to go to work. Boots is not a just a cool dog, he's good medicine, and he's a part of the family.

Mike's vet suggested Mike call PAW Team. All I can say is in the thousands of calls we get, there aren't many that move us to tears. This one did. The Team sprang into action and thanks to the help of our wonderful partners Animal Aid and Pixie Project, we got the surgery for Boots taken care of. Boots is now back on duty as the Best Dog Ever taking care of his human family.

When people like Mike and his family need help, the PAW Team takes care of their pets. We provide basic vet care and in a few cases, like this one, we can get surgical services donated from vets and organizations that care deeply about pets and people. I invite you to join our Team and help us help dogs like Boots take care of his "boys". You can donate on line here.

Of Mouse and Children

Reaching kids through Mouse ears. Do you get better reception with those on?

Reaching kids through Mouse ears. Do you get better reception with those on?

No doubt about it, I'm an anomaly. I don't watch tv and the one and only time I went to Disneyland I had accumulated more than four decades of living. Despite these anomalies I still understand the power of media aimed at children. So when the Disney Channel called and asked to interview me for their local kids' programming I was happy to do it. Educating kids about taking care of their family pets can't start too early, and helping young people develop understanding and compassion toward those less fortunate is one way to change our world as we know it for the better.

The Disney show has four categories you can address in an interview - "good deeds" sounded pretty good indeed. Many young people have joined the PAW Team as Care and Comfort Ambassadors, Guides and even putting together videos and PSAs for us. The sixth grade class of the Creative Sciences School has done a day of service with us and the Girl Scout Troop at the school has essentially adopted us. These kids are amazing, and all about helping people. Their presence at our clinics is always a real delight.

What's a good deed a kid can do to help both people and pets? In addition to helping out at our clinics (always welcome!) kids could walk an elderly person's dog. They could do a dog bath fundraiser to buy flea treatment for the homeless at our clinics. Kids can learn good habits of how to treat pets. They could plant a catnip plant and make a toy for a kitty of a family that can't afford their electric bill, much less a cat toy. Perhaps most of all, by helping those less fortunate kids can see first hand that we all share the things in life that are truly important - kindness, understanding, love of family and fur family, gentleness and sharing - are the same for all of us no matter what our income is.

Hopefully I can get some of that across and reach young people that might want to learn a little more about doing good deeds. Oh, and no. That's not my dog - but he does look dandy in Mickey Mouse ears. I have three rabbits and a cat and they all feel their ears are just fine, thank you. 

June Clinic

The June 1 clinic was busy! 100 pets were seen at the clinic including six spays and neuters that were done at the Pixie Project and four pets that were Zeutered (non-surgical sterilization for male dogs) at the clinic.

We had four amazing vets - Dr. Mary Blankevoort, Dr. Isabel Wyss, Dr. Amy Horlings and Dr. Kim Maun. Once again the awesome students from PCC joined us and more than two dozen volunteers, both old and new, helped with intake, paperwork, guiding clients, handing out supplies, in the pharmacy, licensing, grooming and assisting clients and pets.

New this clinic, Lori Stephens, Certified Dog Trainer, joined us to help provide advice and information for pet owners. Thanks, Lori!

We're continuing to refine our intake process. Waits are shorter for clients that prequalify and we know that all the updates and changes are news to former clients that haven't been at the clinic for a year or more - communicating those changes, particularly to those without internet access or phones, is a still a challenge. Patience and preparation make all the difference!

If you volunteered at the clinic and have any suggestions or comments about how we might continue to improve things, please contact us at Our volunteers are the very heart and soul of the PAW Team - without you, we could not make this amazing service available to those who need it the most. In the past year we've added some fantastic services and made some big changes thanks to suggestions from volunteers. We listen! Please let us know what you think.

Synergy and a haircut

Desiree reached out to the PAW Team a couple of weeks ago inquiring about donating her services as a dog groomer. She is completing her certification and needs to do a lot of "model dogs". She's agreed to come to the PAW Team several days a week until the end of September to serve our clients, shall we say, with style.

Working together - PAW Team style!

Working together - PAW Team style!

Because clinics are so busy our volunteer groomers focus on doing medically necessary grooming such as nail trims, mat removal, preparing a wound site for the vet exam, or trimming fur that is obscuring an animal's vision. By working with clients during the days that are NOT clinic days, Desiree will help pets that need a bit more than the medically  necessary treatments. She's bringing what for our clients is a real luxury - a  "fashion cut" - to the auxiliary services PAW Team can offer. 

Who can receive this service? Pets of PAW Team clients and PAW Team volunteers.

What is the cost? There is no cost but we would welcome a $5 donation if you are not a current PAW Team client.

How to prepare your pet: We have no hot water at the clinic so please bathe your pet before his/her appointment. If you do not have access to water, we can bathe dogs in cold water if it's warm enough for them to dry outside (80 degrees plus).

It's a win-win. Desiree will have an abundance of pets to groom for her certification and the pets will receive a fantastic service their humans could not otherwise afford (and the PAW Team couldn't offer during a clinic). 

If you're a client or volunteer with a pet that needs grooming, call us at 503-227-5477 for details.

Oregonian article on PAW Team

Portland loves it's pets. One of the things I (and thousands more like me!) always look forward to is reading Monique Balas' Pet Talk articles in the Oregonian. We're delighted she has done an article on the PAW Team.

Check out this article!


Pet Talk: PAW Team reaches out to serve Portland’s neediest pet owners


By Monique Balas | Special to The Oregonian 
Email the author | Follow on Twitter 
on May 21, 2014 at 1:00 PM, updated May 21, 2014 at 1:02 PM

PAW Team volunteer Jillian Stauffer and clinic director K Anderson administer rabies and FVRCP vaccines to J.R., who belongs to PAW Team client Wayne McConico.Monique Balas 

The Portland Animal Welfare Team has rebooted its mission to ensure it serves the population that needs its help the most.

The nonprofit has provided basic veterinary care, parasite treatment, licensing and food to pets of Portland's homeless and extremely low-income population since 1999. It also arranges to have pets spayed or neutered, a requirement for all animals treated at PAW Team clinics.

The group continues to offer monthly clinics at its Front Avenue location, which opened in March 2012 after moving from its former location on Southeast Division Street.

In January, however, the PAW Team narrowed its eligibility requirements to those who are truly homeless or living in dire poverty.

The organization also offers more outreach clinics and has streamlined its screening process to make it easier for struggling pet owners to access services.

Never-ending need

After the recession hit, the need only grew.

"We went from quarterly clinics of 30 to 40 pets to nearly monthly clinics serving up to 150 pets by 2011," says executive director Cindy Scheel. "We opened our safety net to help as many as we could, and we served thousands of people and their pets."

Clients kept coming, and they were willing to wait hours for services.

Yet as the organization started collecting more client data, it realized that many of them weren't part of PAW Team's original target demographic.

"The general guidelines are that they have to be living at or below the poverty level, but there are always exceptions," Scheel says, noting each case is looked at individually. "We take the human quotient into the equation."

Clients are now screened and approved for services either during a phone call or by referral from one of the group's partner agencies.

The PAW Team established a network of about 15 social-service agencies that serve a similar population. Those organizations also screen their clients for financial need and refer pet owners to PAW Team, so clients only need to go through the process once.

Another partnership with The Pixie Project and Multnomah County Animal Services has enabled PAW Team clients to get their pet spayed, neutered or have other surgical procedures in the Pixie Project's newly remodeled space.

The PAW Team also coordinates more outreach clinics at places that serve the homeless, such as Dignity Village and Potluck in the Park, for people unable to access the Front Avenue location.

"Our goal is to get services to the people who need them," Scheel says, pointing out that one client walked nearly 10 miles to the Front Avenue clinic with her dog. "One of the barriers to being homeless will always be transportation."

An outreach clinic on Sunday at Transition Projects drew a total of 27 individuals and families and 34 cats and dogs, according to PAW Team's web site.

Dakota Bear, who belongs to PAW Team client Cindy Willcutt, received parasite preventatives during a PAW Team outreach clinic at Transition Projects on Sunday.Monique Balas 

One of those clients was Amie Warren, whose nine-year-old cat, Albert, was suffering from digestive issues.

Warren, 30, has owned Albert since he was born.

"It means a lot to be able to get him looked after," she says, "to be able to get his health care taken care of and still have him as my companion animal."

Helping pets, helping people

While the clinics treat pets, they help their owners too.

"By providing vaccinations and licensing, we help people get off the streets and into transitional housing," says clinic director K Anderson.

She points out that most shelters require proof that a pet is licensed and vaccinated.

And while the clinics improve public health by providing rabies vaccinations and parasite preventatives, they ultimately keep clients healthier too.

"They'll alter their behavior for their pet," says PAW Team volunteer Linn Clark, who assists with licensing.  

Caring for an animal gives people a purpose, gets them into housing and reduces the likelihood that they'll commit a crime, she says.

"I've had people say, 'I can't go back to jail, because then where would my pet go?'" Clark says.

Helping people keep their pets rather than have to abandon them during the most difficult time of their lives is greatly rewarding, Scheel says.

"One of the happiest days is when someone calls and says, 'I just want to let you know, 'I don't need your services anymore."

If you need help: The next PAW Team clinic will take place on Sunday, June 1, at 2700 NW Front Avenue, Building J. Call 971-333-0729 to find out if you qualify or for more information.

If you want to help: The PAW Team always welcomes volunteers with a variety of skills. The organization also hopes to offer an extra clinic day in addition to the Sunday clinics and seeks veterinarians willing to donate services. You can also help by donating money or supplies. Visit for more information.

--Monique Balas;