New Year's Resolutions and Reality Checks

Funny thing about calendars and lives is that lives go on regardless of what the calendar says the day is. So for PAW Team, New Year's day is like every other day - one filled with work and hope and help for those who need it the most. Personally I don't make resolutions, I follow a Strategic Plan. By taking little steps every day toward a specific goal I've found that I can actually do more in the long run. 

What's the Strategic Plan for PAW Team? 

Last summer, when the ice wasn't frozen on our windows, we had a Board Retreat where we created several committees that will help PAW Team carry out it's work in the community. Every task was tied to the mission to provide veterinary care for the pets of the homeless or those living in dire poverty. By breaking it down into groups of activities and from that smaller steps for each group or committee, it's pretty do-able. The steps, broadly stated, are all about serving the pets of the poor and homeless better and include:

Medical: increase number of vets at clinics, create weekday clinics to handle things that can't wait for the regular monthly clinics, increase Outreach clinics to reach those who can't get to us.

Board/Staff: expand board and expertise including volunteerism, fundraising, and improve Orientations for volunteers

Financial: increase funding base, recruit more volunteers for this area

Outreach: increase outreach to Partner Agencies (non-profits that serve the same population we do) and Veterans, enhance Information and Referral services

Fundraising: broader base of activities that includes traditional methods (grantwriting, Give!Guide, etc.) and new avenues 

While this is not by any means an "official" review of our Strategic Plan, I'm delighted to say we're really on track with all our objectives. Nothing in the Plan was so lofty it wasn't doable. Everything was focused on making us stronger so we can help those who need it even more.

If you're interested in helping us help those who need it the most, give us a call or fill out a Volunteer application on our website. PAW Team was started by folks who saw a problem and created something to fix it. 

Who do we need? People who love animals and care about their health, and their human families. We need folks who do social media, marketing, graphic design, fundraising, bookkeeping. Folks who like to talk with groups, who like to work with volunteers. We need you. Be part of our solution. 

See Spot Run

You've seen Spot Magazine in your vet's office and in pet-friendly businesses around town. The creation of Jennifer McCammon, Spot brings local pet-centric information, stories and calendars of events to our community. PAW Team is proud to be a 2014 Top Dog with Spot's annual pet services recognition campaign.

Now celebrating it's 100th edition, Spot has a, well, permanent spot in our hearts as well.

This week Spot has chosen to feature Cindy Scheel, our Executive Director, in it's "People in the Neighborhood" feature. Curious about what a dragon, The Wizard of Oz and rabbits have to do with PAW Team? Want to more about the woman behind the curtain?  Check it out here! Oh, and you might want to turn DOWN your speakers. She can't sing. Really. But please click in and see Spot run!

Adding meaning to the season

The holidays are upon us!  Ideally, the holidays are a time of peace and love.  My vision of a perfect holiday season includes family (the fuzzy kind too!), relaxing by the fire, and a mug of eggnog.  However, this season of peace and love can easily turn into a race to get too many things done in not enough time.  

Help keep pets with their people this holiday season by donating to the PAW Team

Help keep pets with their people this holiday season by donating to the PAW Team

I am always looking for ways to add meaning without adding time consuming to-dos.    Are you in the same boat?  If so, here are three cheap and fast ways to make an impact and contribute to the season of peace and love this week.

1) When you are shopping online using Amazon, sign in through Amazon Smile.  AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service. With every purchase, Amazon donates .5% to your designated non-profit.  No extra time or money required from you.

2) Giving Tuesday! I love this new tradition.  I love that after all the Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday noise there is a day devoted to spreading peace and love.  Donate $10 to PAW Team through the Willamette Week Give!Guide and join the celebration.  

3) Like the PAW Team Facebook Page or follow us on Twitter.  This helps us connect with a broader audience.  I also make a point to post as much positivity there as possible – heartwarming stories, cute pet pictures and other things to make you smile.  A great reminder in among the holiday busy-ness that you are making the world a more peaceful, loving place by contributing to the PAW Team community.

Volunteering at PAW Team

My name is Alison and I recently started volunteering with PAW Team as the blogger and social media coordinator.  I want to tell you a bit about my experience as a new volunteer so you know what to expect if you are thinking about volunteering.

I volunteer with PAW Team because it is fun, allows me to develop new skills, and because PAW Team makes a straight-forward, direct impact on our community.  Outside of PAW Team, I work in education, host Meetups, and am on a quest to find the best fusion food in Portland.     

Even before starting with PAW Team, I was impressed with the level of organization at PAW Team.  I was able to get on the website, sign up for a shift and a volunteer orientation, and begin volunteering within a month.  This is the 4th organization that I have tried to volunteer with recently and the only one who was organized enough to get me trained and “on the floor” in under 2 months. 

The first clinic I attended was one of their biggest of year - over 120 pets served.  Despite this, things ran smoothly.  Volunteers – even those of us who were new – knew where to go and who to ask if we had questions.  The experienced volunteers were knowledgeable, warm, and welcoming.  I had so much fun!  The pets are super cute.  I also really enjoyed meeting our clients and hearing their stories.

If you are interested in volunteering, more information can be found here.  Say hi when you see me at the clinic 

Give!Guide kick off this week

Here's an easy way to help the people and pets of PAW Team - donate through the Willamette Week Give!Guide.  Give!Guide brings our community together and the funds raised during the next two months help us take care of pets all year long.

Your donation of $15 will vaccinate a pet and help his people get into housing and off the streets.

A gift of $40 will Zeuter a dog - that's a non-surgical sterilization process that's easier on the pets and the people and helps reduce unwanted litters, suffering of pets and overcrowding in shelters.

$250 buys flea control for a whole clinic helping more than 100 animals.

And then there's the 35-50 fun! If you're 35 or under and donate $50 or more you automatically qualify for the PAW Team/Pabst Party Bus! It's a pub crawl in the super fun double decker London bus at 5-7 pubs where you'll be treated to beer, snacks, and tons of swag ranging from t shirts to snow boards. (And if you're doing the math, yes, you get a whole lot more than $50 in fun for this donation - it's a win win!)

Donate now, help the pets of the homeless all year long. It's easy. It feels good. It changes lives.


My pet's cuter than your pet

There's one really great upside to the PAW Team that everyone, but everyone, agrees on: we love the pets. We especially love the CUTE pets! Okay, so every pet is cute in their human's eyes but some handle their photo sessions a bit better.

We're inviting all our clients, volunteers and supporters to send us photos of YOUR cute pet. We'll post it to our Gallery so we all can enjoy the incredible adorability of your pet. Don't worry, we will only post the pet's name. 

Let's get some cute going here! Check out our Gallery - and add to it!

Petey's PAW - a visit from a favorite client

Petey's PAW

Today we got a visit from one of our favorite patients - Petey. He brought his human family with him to get some food and a couple of big dog bowls. And to see his friends at the office. Maria, our office manager, and I dropped everything we were doing and rushed to greet him. This dog is amazing, and so is his story. 

The office gets busy during the week - although we don't have a vet on staff except on clinic days we give out supplies, food, prescriptions and handle about 60 calls per day. Clients come in to pre-qualify, a process that speeds up their clinic day by hours. Usually Maria answers the phone but when it's swamped, we all jump for it when it rings. One day this summer was as busy as it gets and I answered the phone.

Normally clients are desperate when they call us and you can hear it in their voice. They've made dozens of calls but there simply aren't free vet care resources out there except us, the PAW Team. It can take a while to find us and when they do, clients are frantic, if relieved. But this call was different. 

The man on the other end of the phone was quiet, resigned. But he was calling for his boys' dog, Petey. They had just come from their vet who had given the bad news that Petey had cancer in his toe and it was rapidly spreading and if the toe wasn't removed he wouldn't make it. He told me his name was Geoff and that Petey was the support network for two of his boys who are autistic. Without Petey the boys would struggle even more. "I just don't know what to do but I have to keep trying, for them" he told me.

In all the thousands of calls I've heard, this one was one of the most moving. The situation was medically "fixable", the pet more precious than usual because of the family situation. But the thousands of dollars he was quoted for the surgery, while the going rate for a special operation like that, was so far beyond their means it was impossible. But this is the PAW Team. We do the impossible every day.

I called our clinic director, I called vets. We got a vet to donate the surgery services, we came up with the meds Petey would need, and we arranged for the operation to take place at the Pixie Project, where our surgical equipment is housed due to the less than ideal conditions at the Front Avenue clinic. It looked great but then I got a call that Pixie wanted $150 or the surgery was off. 

By now there was absolutely no way that I was going to let Geoff and his family down. I called our friends at Animal Aid and Tina, so moved by the story, said they "would find a way to pay for that copay". In less than a day Tina called me back saying they'd come up with the funds. The surgery was back on!

Things went beautifully. Petey came in for several follow up visits at our Front Avenue Clinic and K, our Clinic Director, changed bandages and we all were amazed at the magical being that Petey is and the incredible bond he has with his humans, especially the boys.

Petey came in again today with his family. They needed food and some bowls. We also got to meet his doxie friend and gave them bags of food for her too. "Petey is back to chasing flies" Geoff told me. "She limps just a little, but she's so happy and so full of life again." 

We're PAW Team.  We do this with very little funding, with awesome volunteers and with help from great agencies like Animal Aid. We don't build silos, we build community. We help those who have the least and need it the most.

A perfectly healed paw for Petey!

A perfectly healed paw for Petey!

70 years of friendship, dogs, and bellydancing

Last month the wonderful dancers of Dancers NW sponsored a benefit for the PAW Team. More than 20 dancers, ranging in age from 9 years to 76 years, gathered to dance for the dogs and cats (and rabbits, ferrets, turtles, hamsters...) of PAW Team. Led by the area's foremost belly dance instructor, Carol Love, it was a delightful event, showcasing the beautiful and ancient art of the dance and the vivacity of the dancers.

They raised several hundred dollars for the PAW Team and an unexpected bonus of the day was  that the event also reunited two women, Carol and Suzanne, who had grown up together. Friends since age six, both women are now 76 and went to school together from kindergarten to high school. The demands of families and work separated them but they usually reconnected at high school reunions here in Portland. The last time they saw each other was at their 50th.

When Suzanne found out about the Belly Dancing for PAW Team benefit she immediately signed up to go. She remembered Carol with great fondness and was delighted to have an opportunity to reconnect with her life-long friend.

Why is this unusual? Suzanne moved to an assisted living facility earlier this year and felt that much of what she had known and loved for all her life was now out of her life. She had to give up her two beloved dogs, Sam and Baby Doll, when she moved. More than once she had said: "There's just nothing to live for any more. I was okay until I realized I'd never see my dogs again. They were the reasons I got up every day and they were my constant companions."

I hear this nearly every day from our clients. Living on the streets or in assisted living, our pets keep us going, they are our support network.

Suzanne had lost hope. But when she saw Carol again, the light came back into her eyes. She - as we all were - was inspired by the energy and enthusiasm of her old friend. And she was helping animals. 

Like many of our clients, Suzanne, while not homeless, was facing a radical change in her life brought about by circumstances beyond her control. She lost her home, she lost her beloved pets. She lost her reason to live.

Belly dancing for PAW Team did more than reunite two dear old friends. It gave Suzanne a desire to live again. I'm not sure she'll buy a belly dancing costume (as I did at the event) but she has a rekindled spark to want to help people and pets again.

How do I know this?

Suzanne is my mother.