Blog

Changing for the better

PAW Team is about pets, people and the unique bond we share. We are a volunteer-based organization that does absolutely amazing things with an extremely small budget. We're about as grass-roots as it gets, and that's what keeps us focused on enhancing what we do and how we do it. 

This year we're changing and adding a few things to make the experience better for our clients and our volunteers. Here's a short list of some of the recent and soon-to-come changes.

Surgeries: Thanks to the generous support of vets in the area and the Animal Rescue and Care Fund we have always been able to provide one or two surgeries for our patients each month. Beginning in March, we'll be increasing that dramatically through a creative, collaborative effort between the PAW Team, Multnomah County Animal Shelter (MCAS) and the Pixie Project (PP). Equipment purchased by the county from a grant made a couple years ago to the PAW Team has been housed at PP. We are in the process of recruiting vets who can donate their services for vital surgeries and procedures that we can't do during our regular monthly clinics.

Partner Agencies: Folks that are experiencing homelessness or life-altering issues need their pets more than ever. These pets need care, regardless of the financial situation of their people. That's where the PAW Team comes in. We network with many social service agencies in the area to help let folks who are in crisis know about the PAW Team before their pets get sick. Our Partner Agencies include domestic violence shelters, organizations that work with physical and mental illnesses, emergency responder agencies, transitional and low-income housing organizations and agencies that work with all facets of homelessness. This has been a huge success: we're reaching people who might otherwise never hear about the PAW Team and we're able to apply our resources to those who need it most - before a health crisis for their pet happens.

Shorter wait times: The PAW Team clinics have traditionally been first-come, first-served. While this is the most equitable way to serve people, it isn't easy for many as that can create long wait times. Beginning this January, we moved to the pre-qualification system to shorten this and it's been tremendously successful. People who have completed their pre-qualification appointments now go to an "express" line and are the first group served.  We will always continue to serve folks who drop in on our clinics, but for those who live in the area and are current clients, the pre-qualification process is a huge time saver. We've also changed how we handle getting supplies to clients. Rather than add yet another half hour wait at the end of the day, our fantastic volunteer Guides will put together a list of the needs a pet may have for supplies, then our Supply Room Concierge will prepare a bag of supplies and have it ready for the client before they leave the clinic. We're also researching other options to help clients more efficiently, such as having set appointment times on clinic days. 

I welcome your comments and suggestions on how we can continue to improve.

The birthday present

I think the hardest job at PAW Team is answering the phones.  We receive about 20-60 calls a day and almost all of them are from people who are desperate to find help for their pets. Every person who calls has a story, usually a sad one, and a pet they love. The calls range from routine inquiries to heartbreaking. Maria, our stalwart front office person, is exceptionally efficient at handling these calls, getting folks to the right place and providing as many other resource leads as possible if we can't help them. After 20 years in the military, she's also a stickler to the rules so when she put a call on hold and said to me: "We just have to do something for this dog" I knew it wasn't a routine call. She repeated the story she'd just been told and added that she thought they fell through every crack in every system. "I don't know if the vets can help them, but no one else is. The least we can give them is hope."

To respect these folks' privacy, I'm leaving out a number of details in this story. The couple certainly qualified financially for PAW Team services but until the dog's health issues became so advanced they were afraid they were going to lose her, they had not asked for help. Farmers, they were used to hard work and not taking anything for granted. But one of the couple had also fallen very ill and their medical expenses had caused extreme financial difficulties. As much as they loved their dog, they simply had no money for food; they'd been feeding her pancakes as that was all they had in the house. They borrowed money for gas and drove over 40 miles to get to the clinic.

 As I talked to clients who were waiting their turn to see a vet I noticed one particular couple were warmly smiling the whole time and always had a pleasant word for the volunteers and the folks sitting near them. I stopped to pet their dog and noted her condition - I was sure it was them. "Everyone here sure is kind" he said to me. "If this old girl could talk" he said petting the dog, "She'd say 'thanks' too". "You'll see a vet soon" I promised. "They'll take a good look at her". "She's all we got" his wife added quietly.

 The dog saw one of our fantastic vets, they got a supply of dog food, a new warm dog bed to keep her comfortable and some toys. We helped them get their ailing dog into the car along with the supplies. Vigorously pumping our hands, the couple thanked us profusely. "This was the best day ever" the lady said. "It's my birthday today. And you helped our dog. You gave us hope. That's the best present ever".

Holiday Spirit abounds

We love our pets every day of the year but at the holidays people are especially thankful for the unconditional love and joy they bring into their lives. Local businesses have sponsored the PAW Team as part of our Give!Guide campaign or as a part of their holiday giving. 

Staff of Halsey Street East Animal Clinic meet the residents and pets at Dignity Village.

Staff of Halsey Street East Animal Clinic meet the residents and pets at Dignity Village.

Unloading hundreds of pounds of donations after dark at PAW Team

Unloading hundreds of pounds of donations after dark at PAW Team

Halsey Street East Animal Clinic sent a sleighful of gifts to the residents of Dignity Village and the pets of PAW Team this December in a giving spree that took the all around town spreading cheer and helping the less fortunate. 

The following day, the spirited Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt folks held a Give!Guide fundraising event at their downtown offices. A silent auction offered fabulous goodies ranging from A to Z - Animal lover basket to a Zombie Apocalypse basket - all of it raising funds for the PAW Team.

The two Executive Directors - Sharon Harmon of OHS and Cindy Scheel of PAW Team

The two Executive Directors - Sharon Harmon of OHS and Cindy Scheel of PAW Team

Ebenezeer Scrooge pays a visit thanks to Edmund Stone of All Classical Radio

Ebenezeer Scrooge pays a visit thanks to Edmund Stone of All Classical Radio

Reed Coleman and husband Scooter Sutterer

Reed Coleman and husband Scooter Sutterer

Silent auction bidders

Silent auction bidders

Isabel Wyss, DVM of AcuVet and Scott Tuomi, PhD of Pacific Univeristy - dedicated PAW Team volunteers

Isabel Wyss, DVM of AcuVet and Scott Tuomi, PhD of Pacific Univeristy - dedicated PAW Team volunteers

Give!Guide makes donating on line safe and easy

Give!Guide makes donating on line safe and easy

Transitions: Board Members, Clinic Director

The board of the Portland Animal Welfare Team is made up of veterinarians and community members who give of their time and talent to make our clinics possible. This November, three board members have completed their terms and are stepping down from the board, but all will continue as volunteers with the PAW Team.

Dr. Isabel Wyss, DVM, has been involved with the PAW Team for many years and became a board member two years ago. She has been at nearly every clinic providing veterinary care and acupuncture to pets in need.

Geordie Duckler, Esq., has also given years of service to the PAW Team. The nation's leading attorney in animal law, Geordie has been instrumental in guiding the Team, providing advice and advocacy.

Amanda Ferguson Baisley has volunteered with the PAW Team for more than four years as the Board Secretary, board member, Intake Leader and in dozens of other areas from helping with events to graphic design. The only clinics she has missed since starting with the PAW Team was on her wedding day and the following month when she was on her honeymoon in Europe. 

Janna O'Connor, CVT has been Clinic Director for more than a year and brought a wealth of energy, dedication and expertise to the position. Her "day job"  teaching CVT courses at a local technical college has ended with the school's closure, and she is moving out of the area to be near her family.

From the entire PAW Team and the people and pets we serve, a huge THANK YOU to Isabel, Geordie, Amanda and Janna for all your hard work, commitment and the passion you've shown every person and every pet.

 

Changes coming to PAW Team

PAW Team's core mission is to provide care for the pets of people who are homeless. When the economy crashed in 2008-09, we expanded this net and helped thousands more people but this is not a sustainable model and we are now returning to our core mission. 

As of January 2014 you will need to either be homeless, in transitional housing or provide proof of income at or below the Federal poverty line to access PAW Team services. 

What this means to current PAW Team clients: 

You may be hearing from us via email or phone about whether you are able to continue being a client. If, based on  the information you provided us, you do not meet the income level, you will no longer be eligible for services. If you believe your income has changed you may set an appointment to review your financial paperwork; based on the information you may be eligible to re-qualify.

We have taken every precaution to be as fair and ethical in this decision as possible. EVERY file has been reviewed for financial eligibility by our staff and also reviewed by our Medical Team for humane medical need. 

What this means to people new to the PAW Team: 

If you have never been a PAW Team client, or have not been at a clinic in the past two years, you will need to pre-qualify for services by setting an appointment to have your documentation reviewed. 

What you will need to bring to these appointments: 

  • Three months of bank statements. 
  • Three months of bills for utilities, rent, vehicles, etc.
  • Three months of employement/unemployment income documentation.
  • Documentation on ALL government assistance (Welfare) programs including SNAP, TANF, Section 8 Housing, WIC, SSI/SSDI, etc.  for ALL people residing in your household. Documentation must be NO OLDER than 60 days from the date of your appointment.
  • Current, valid photo ID.
  • As with all our clinics, you will be asked to tell us about your pets, and the number of people in your household.

Social Service Partner Agencies Referral System

Our mission is to help the pets of people who are homeless or living in dire poverty. To help as many people in these circumstances as possible we are narrowing our financial qualifications as outlined above; we are at the same time reaching out to social service agencies in the area who work with this same core clientele - the homeless. We have established relationships with many agencies in the area; these agencies can refer their clientele to us as the agencies use the same financial means test as we do. If you are homeless, in transition from homelessness, etc. you may wish to contact your case worker and ask about PAW Team. If the agency/agencies with which you work are not part of this system, you can still self-refer and set up a pre-qualification appointment.

PAW Team-ing up with Pot Luck in the Park

Pot Luck in the Park has been providing a free meal to anyone in need for 21 years. We're delighted to partner with them in our first Outreach Clinic with Pot Luck October 6, 2013. We regularly provide them with pet food, toys and other pet supplies for their weekly events, this was our first on-site Clinic with them. 

We served 24 homeless pets of the homeless giving vaccinations, examinations, wound treatment, and basic care.  We look forward to working with Donna, Madeleine and David from Pot Luck in the Park next year at another Outreach Clinic!

 

Florida Room Fun - October 17th

Join us all day - or any part of it - from 3:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. on Thursday October 17th at the fun and funky Florida Room at a435 N. Killingsworth St. in Portland and support the PAW Team. Suzy, one of our awesome regular volunteers, and her partners are offering 25% of all sales to be donated to the PAW Team that day.

Join us for a fun, casual time and help us raise money for our clinics while you raise a glass with friends. Bring co-workers, family, friends and anyone who loves animals. 

Eat, drink and keep those pets of the homeless healthy by having fun! It just doesn't get any easier, or better, that that!

The Florida Room - great fun, and and great supporters of the PAW Team! 

The Florida Room - great fun, and and great supporters of the PAW Team!