The corners of his mouth eagerly turn into a smile as PAWS employee Michelle Kulej reaches into her vest. “He loves the treats; you have to make sure you have plenty when you bring him out to play.” The eager boy with the brindle eye-patches is Marty: a wagging, adorable, and lively mix of Australian Cattle Dog and Pit Bull Terrier. And he’s an obvious favorite of Kulej, “He’s just a sweet, sweet boy.” Not to mention a dog with a lot of people in his corner.
Over a year ago, Marty was rescued from his previous home after witnesses saw the owner breaking the terrier’s back leg in a misguided attempt at discipline. That’s when the King County Regional Animal Services took Marty in, surgically repaired his leg, and placed him in a series of foster homes while his leg healed. After nearly eight months with no one to adopt him, he came to PAWS where he’s become a staff favorite. “The volunteer dog walkers love Marty,” says Kulej as she skips a ball across the grass. “He’s great with other dogs, loves to fetch balls, and always sits on command.”
But Marty might not be here today if it weren’t for the PAWS Placement Partner Program. PAWS works with about 50 other agencies to “swap” cats and dogs when a particular rescue group finds themselves full, or unable to provide for animals with special needs. This creates a “safety net” for animals who might not have a future otherwise. Since 2005, the program has helped more than 3,000 animals. Last year alone, PAWS took in 451 dogs and 147 cats, while transferring 167 animals to other groups. These animals went primarily to breed-specific rescues, and foster-to-adopt programs. A few of them actually went on to become explosives detection dogs or found homes on ranches where their skills are well-appreciated.
Marty’s the perfect example of why the program works. Today he’ll chase balls and gobble treats while he waits for his future family, one that Kulej is convinced is just around the corner. “They’re out there somewhere. We’ll find them.”
[Editor’s note: Just before we went to press, Marty was adopted by a wonderful family with three children. Unbeknownst to the staff here at PAWS, the two younger boys met Marty a month ago, and were saving up their allowances for the adoption fees. Every day, the two youngsters would nervously go online at paws.org to make sure Marty was still available. Marty is just one more example of why we never give up.]