Animals have been my passion for as long as I can remember. As a girl, I mounted a campaign to bring our backyard squirrels indoors because I was concerned that they weren’t appropriately attired to withstand the harsh Michigan winter. Although my parents denied my request to build the squirrels a winter enclave, they did provide an alternative—I could adopt a “real” pet from the local shelter. On my fifth birthday, Coco came into our lives.
Coco’s original guardians had abandoned him, but he gave his heart to us. He was my friend whose long, floppy ears always listened, my confidant who reassured me with licks, and my furry (albeit generally rather stinky) pillow that always hugged back. After 11 years, Coco’s kidneys began to fail, and the difficult decision was made to put him to sleep. That afternoon and well into the night, I sat in my closet and cried. I had lost my best friend.
In 1998, my husband (Rodger) and I moved to a house in Seattle. Before the carpet could be ripped out and the walls repainted, a six-foot wood fence was built to contain our soon-to-be new best friend. The concrete bases for the fence posts hadn’t yet dried before we were en route to PAWS Companion Animal Shelter in Lynnwood.
A skinny ten-month old lab mix, Casey had already lived with two families, both of whom had surrendered her because she “no longer fit their lifestyle.” As we approached her kennel, she sat at attention and smiled at us, her enormous pink tongue thrown off to the side and her brown eyes pleading with us to take her home. Despite enduring two homes that failed to give her the love she deserved, Casey has proved to be an exceedingly gentle and kind-hearted animal. And like Coco, Casey returns love unconditionally. We could not imagine our lives without her.
Thousands of animals with similar stories come through PAWS’ shelter annually. Many are puppies from abandoned litters; others are adult dogs left tied to PAWS’ front gate. Many have been abused and neglected. All deserve safe, loving homes.
At PAWS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, our highly skilled staff and veterinarians have cared for 165 different species of critically injured wild animals. In 2002 alone, we rehabilitated and released more than 1,300 animals back into their native habitat. And just up the road, our tireless team of advocates works to end the suffering and exploitation of all animals in Washington State and, hopefully, beyond.
It is an honor for me to serve my fellow Board members, the outstanding PAWS staff, and the hundreds of dedicated volunteers as the new President of PAWS Board of Directors. However, it is the ongoing support of our thousands of members that makes our work on behalf of the animals a reality. Your generosity allows PAWS to continue to help animals in need.
Until our work is done, PAWS will continue to labor on behalf of all animals. Thank you for supporting our efforts to do so.Avery Danzig Kohn