Synergy at its Best

Whisper and Salchi at Pot Luck in the Park Outreach Clinic

Whisper and Salchi at Pot Luck in the Park Outreach Clinic

It started with a phone call . Two young people living on the streets, Whisper and Happy, came to the Pongo Fund for dog food. They said their older dog, Salchi, needed wet food as she was nine years old and had bad teeth. Larry at Pongo called me and asked if there was something we could do. Salchi's teeth were causing her pain and she had difficulties eating. They had just gotten a new puppy from another homeless person who couldn't take. Neither of the dogs were spayed. Whisper and Happy were going to leave town in a few days. We got Whisper's cell number and told her about our Outreach Clinic at Pot Luck in the Park the following week. 

Whisper, Happy, Usnea and Salchi at PAW Team after surgery. Success! Two spays and a much-needed dental surgery. Thanks, Vista Vet!

Whisper, Happy, Usnea and Salchi at PAW Team after surgery. Success! Two spays and a much-needed dental surgery. Thanks, Vista Vet!

Dr. Mary examined Salchi and confirmed the dog had very advanced dental disease and would need surgery. We convinced Whisper and Happy to spay both dogs if we could get the surgery donated, and they agreed. Now we set out to do ' the impossible' - get the dental surgery donated. Virtually every older dog and cat will eventually develop dental problems and dental extractions are one of the most requested surgeries.

We reached out to Vista Pet Hospital, well-known for their expertise in dental issues. Dr. Davis is committed to keeping older pets healthy and offers dental surgeries at very affordable prices. We told them the situation and the quickly agreed to donate all three surgeries. Amanda, our Spay/Neuter coordinator volunteered to transport the dogs to and from Vista Vet. The surgeries took place in just a few days and Vista even kept the dogs overnight to help ensure a smooth recovery. Everything went perfectly.

This is a fantastic example of synergy at its best. What started as a simple request for food grew into a life-changing happy ending.

We are deeply grateful to Dr. Davis and his wonderful staff at Vista Pet Hospital for providing the surgeries and overnight stay, and most of all for their long-standing commitment to helping the pets in our community.  

Dignity Village Clinics - going monthly

Dignity Village is the only city-sanctioned homeless encampment in the US. Since PAW Team's beginnings, the fabulous vets of the PAW Team have been treating the pets of the Villagers, keeping the pets healthy and happy - and very importantly - together with their people during the toughest times of their lives.

This year, we are increasing our outreach to the homeless and very low income residents of our community through Outreach Clinics and Dignity Village will of course be a part of this. The pets at the Village are some of the most loved animals you'll ever meet. It's my privilege to drop by a carload of pet food every couple of weeks and check in on the residents and their four-legged friends. 

The residents of the Village have more challenges than most of our clients - transportation being one the greatest. There are nearly 40 pets in the Village, but only one working car so getting animals in for check ups, vaccines and even just flea control is a logistical nightmare. Did I mention some of the cats have a bit of attitude??

Now we are addressing this challenge by making regular, monthly visits to the Village to dispense parasite control, vaccines, and handle medical problems before they become emergencies. Seeing these pets on a regular basis makes it easier on the pets, the residents and also will shorten the wait for other clients the regular First Sunday Clinics at Front Avenue. 

This week Dr. Christina Ekness from Dove Lewis joined Clinic Director K Anderson and superstar volunteer Chuck Barton, CVT, at Dignity Village for a clinic. They treated more than 30 pets with parasite control, vaccines, exams, first aid and took some blood samples for tests for a particularly sick kitty. All this in 94 degree heat!

Outreach Clinics - lowering barriers to accessing our services

Our mission is to help keep people and pets together during the most difficult times of their lives. We help the pets of people that are homeless, in transition from homelessness and living in extreme poverty by providing vet care for their beloved pets.

But sometimes getting to our Front Avenue clinic is a real challenge. Transportation, particularly when you're carrying a sick animal and you don't have a car, is one of the biggest barriers to accessing PAW Team clinics. So we are adding a number of Outreach Clinics to our services in addition to our regular clinics. This month we're reaching out to the homeless through Pot Luck in the Park. Pot Luck has been providing a free meal to anyone who needs it every Sunday for more than 20 years.

The special clinics are exclusively for the clients of the agencies with whom we partner, and are a streamlined version of our regular clinics. We provide basic exams, vaccinations, parasite control, and we'll bring along some food and supplies as well. This will be our second year at Pot Luck in the Park and we're looking forward to helping their "regulars", many of whom go everywhere with their pets. 

Last year one of the folks who came to our tables was Shawnisha, a lovely young woman who, along with two friends, had been traveling across the country busking on corners - literally singing for their supper. They had a boistrous pit bull with them whom they'd had since he was a puppy. They'd saved up enough money to get him neutered when they were traveling through the south but he hadn't had any vaccinations or flea control for more than a year. We took care of those needs and sent them on their way with a bag of dog food, some toys and a halter and leash to replace the old rope they had been using.

One of the main goals of our Outreach Clinics and our Partner Agency Network is to help get our services to those who truly need them the most before there's a medical emergency, keeping pets healthier and happier. 

In the next year we'll be doing even more Outreach Clinics. We'll be at a low-income senior housing unit where all the residents have transitioned from the streets; we'll be at a community center in the area of the city that has the highest concentration of subsidized housing; we'll pack our med bags and cars and go to Transition Projects and we're even adding monthly "Village Calls" to Dignity Village, the nation's only city-sanctioned homeless encampment and a place where we've been providing veterinary care since PAW Team started in 1999.

If you'd like to help support our Outreach Clinics, you can click here to donate. Your gifts will buy vaccines, flea control and tests for sick pets of the homeless.

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.