When Tiffany McIndoe and Marla Meislin saw Zippy for the first time, he was scrunched against the back of his kennel at PAWS in an effort to get as far away as possible from the people walking by. To Tiffany and Marla, this wasn't a reason to pass him up, but rather an invitation to get acquainted. It's hard to say why Zippy worries as much as he does for a 10-month-old puppy, but thanks to his new guardians, he has much less to worry about now than he did just a few months ago.
"When we first met him," recalled Tiffany, "Zippy was terrified, as if he had no idea what to do with people. We were confident, though, that we could give him the home he needed---quiet and patient." But they agreed to let Cajun, their 10-year-old Australian Shepherd mix, make the final decision. On meeting Cajun, Zippy instantly came out of his shell and bounded over to him like the puppy he was. Cajun reciprocated the enthusiasm with grand circular wags of his tail. The decision was made: Zippy would come home with them. In honor of what they described as the "worried old-man look" he gets on his face, Tiffany and Marla renamed him Zayde---Yiddish for grandpa.
For three days after Zayde was home, he hid under the dining room table. But surrounded with patience and tenderness, he reaches milestones every day---from the first gentle nuzzle, to more recently giving Tiffany a kiss on her nose. "He is swooning the both of us."
Hearing about his progress, PAWS' shelter team was ecstatic. It had been a long road for Zayde who had come 240 miles to PAWS from Howling Ridge Rescue in Tonasket, Washington. As the only shelter that cares for homeless pets in Okanagon County, Howling Ridge Rescue relies on its partnership with PAWS to save lives. They are one of several partners PAWS works with to create a safety net for animals in need.
When we have the resources and the space available after caring for animals in our immediate area, we connect with these partners. Often we help relieve over-crowding, or simply give the animals another chance at finding their forever homes. Sometimes all it takes is a new pool of potential adopters to find the right fit for a homeless animal, especially coming from more rural places like Howling Ridge or the Humane Society for Skagit Valley who may not get as many visitors. Animals have come to PAWS from as far as Waveland, Mississippi, and as close as Everett and King County.
Aggie is one of those who came from the Everett Animal Shelter. This four-month-old energy-packed kitten found her new family through PAWS Cat City in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood. Her new guardians Niel, Ellen and Cora Smith, who live just down the street from Cat City, were looking for a friend for their resident cat Diva. "It took only two days and they were playing and sleeping together," said Niel. "They go crazy at night, running and sliding across the floor after each other. Keeps them both out of trouble."
Not only does PAWS open our doors to friends in need, but we also reach out to partners in the community for assistance with animals in our care who have special needs. These animals include those with difficult medical or behavioral challenges, or particular breeds who may not do well in a shelter environment. Often the groups we turn to are smaller "rescue groups" who specialize in a particular breed, or have the ability to provide longer term care in a home setting, a little like foster care.
One such success story was a 12- year-old Boston Terrier mix named Bobbie, who had come to PAWS after her guardian passed away. PAWS' veterinarian discovered she had a heart murmur, a serious skin condition, and was coming down with kennel cough, which can be potentially serious for an older dog. The best option was to find Bobbie a place to stay outside of the shelter environment, which could be very stressful for this senior lady.
The shelter staff tried multiple contacts in Washington State before finding a rescue group in British Columbia, and arranged for Bobbie's immediate transport to the Canadian border. After a couple of weeks of recovery in a veterinary clinic, Bobbie went to her foster home. One day Bobbie and her foster mom met an elderly woman at the dog park who---as fate would have it---had been looking for a Boston Terrier. Instantly, the two bonded and Bobbie, now Peggy Sue, found the love and care she needed in her golden years.
Since PAWS formalized our Placement Partner Program in March 2005, we have welcomed 956 dogs and cats from our partner organizations, and transferred 450 dogs and cats to specialty rescue groups. However, building a community safety net to save animals' lives has always been a part of PAWS' mission. We understand that no single organization can end the suffering of all the homeless and abandoned companion animals in the community. And that's why PAWS will continue to collaborate with citizens, other shelters, rescue groups, government agencies and animal lovers all over the state to create a safety net for our feline and canine friends.