Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why it Matters

I don’t think I am unique when I say that my dog is my best friend, hence the age-old adage; however, there is a whole new meaning to that truism when your dog is your only friend. I am spoiled with a network of support that is big enough to encompass my needs wherever I go in the world. For many of the individuals I spoke with this past weekend, that support network consists only of their dog or cat. Portland Animal Welfare Team, “PAW Team,” runs clinics on the first Sunday of every month to provide basic veterinary care as well as essential supplies free to the companion animals of people who are homeless or in extreme poverty. The devoted guardians line up outside the clinic as early as 6 a.m. to assure their companion’s chance of receiving care. Each dog or cat receives a number, and once their number is called, a volunteer helps the guardian fill out medical intake forms and assess what the pet needs that day: vaccines, deworming, ear checks, flea meds, nail trimming, grooming, etc. After the forms are completed, a volunteer takes the animal and guardian to different stations to administer the needed care. When finished, the guardian picks out some food, toys and a blanket, and then the animal and their guardian head off until their next visit. As a volunteer, I am reminded at these clinics of how wonderfully special companion animals are. At the clinic this past weekend, one of the individuals I was helping looked to be a big, tough guy, covered in tattoos. He was at the clinic with his rescued pit bull. One look at this pit bull and I knew she was a lucky, lucky girl to have found a loving human. Her deep scars and distended nipples spoke volumes about the abuse she must have endured in her previous “home.” The gentleman only adopted her months ago, but as I watched this big, tough guy look into this dog’s eyes, it was clear the two are soulmates. They looked at each other and only saw one another. It seems to me the pair may have rescued each other. That PAW Team can help these animals in need is important for the animals themselves, for the people whose lives they so fully enrich, as well as for our greater community. Every dog or cat that gets vaccinated is one fewer dog on the street potentially spreading disease. The clinic also mandates that dogs and cats be spayed or neutered and provides coupons to do so for free with the help of Multnomah County Animal Services and the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland. Every animal that gets spayed or neutered helps combat overpopulation and also helps ease some of the burden unwanted companion animals place on our community. The number of animals the clinic treats every month has climbed dramatically from 2009 to 2010 alone. In 2009, the clinic treated on average 70 pets; this year, that number has grown to 130+, in addition to having to turn some animals away. These are tough economic times. As this organization survives solely on donations, they are also struggling. I hope that PAW Team is able to push through and that they receive enough donations so that they can continue providing this essential service to the community.
Read more about this organization at Jaclyn Leeds J.D. Candidate 2013 Lewis & Clark Law School
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  1. We treated an average of 131 pets at each monthly clinic this year. Our overall total number of pets treated has increased five-fold this year over last year, a sign of the continuing poor economy. We greatly appreciate the help of generous donors and wonderful volunteers who are the reason we can continue to offer veterinary care to the pets of those who are homeless or in extreme poverty. Come out and volunteer with us and see for yourself what a difference you can make in the world.

  2. Thank you, Wendy, for the update on the PAW Team's stats this year. 131 animals treated monthly is truly incredible! As we unfortunately know all too well, the need for such services during an economic downturn grows significantly and contributions drop off at a similarly fast rate.

    Congratulations to PAW Team for helping so many.