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Paws Rescue celebrates 10 years of saving lives

Published 11:00 am Friday, August 1, 2014

Paws Rescue is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. 

Paws Rescue is the only no-kill program for homeless animals in the Vicksburg Warren-County community. It was established in 2004, and has since found homes for 905 homeless dogs and cats.

Paws president Leigh Conerly said the program is funded completely through community donations runs the program. “We do apply for any grants that we can to help us assist more pets,” she said.

According to Conerly, the program began when three local women wanted to end the suffering of animals in the community. The first foster of the organization was a matted, heartworm-positive cocker spaniel from the City’s animal control department named Morgan. Currently, Paws has 39 foster animals, and 14 foster homes. All the animals are fostered from each foster family’s home, and they are kept until they are adopted. They do not have a facility.

Conerly said once a pet is taken into the program, they are taken directly to the vet for an evaluation. The pet’s needs are determined, and a course of treatment (if needed) is planned out. All the pets are spayed/neutered before any are adopted. Animals are considered un-adoptable until all major health issues have been cleared up. The adoption fee for dogs is $100, and $25 for cats. The adoption process begins by the potential adoptee filling out an application. Conerly says, “We check vet references, and conduct a home visit prior to any pets going to a new forever home.” They also take back any pets that for any reason the adoption did not work out.

Paws vice-president Elizabeth Whitehead said she helps to plan and attend events, fundraising, fostering, transport of animals, and rescue of strays. Whitehead became involved with Paws Rescue when a litter of puppies showed up at her home. She said she tried to take care of them, but they had a lot of health problems. “I contacted Paws and they said if I could foster the puppies, that [they] would cover the expense to vaccinate and spay/neuter them.” She said she was able to see first-hand what a difference this rescue makes. Whitehead said she is currently fostering five animals.

Conerly said in order to become a foster home for Paws Rescue, applicants need to fill out a form and are expected to help get the pet ready to go to their forever home. “Fostering a pet is a commitment, because we are no-kill so the pet could be in our foster program for any length of time.”

Whitehead said, they are registered as a charitable organization, so donations are tax deductible. Conerly said she feels “wonderfully blessed” that the organization has run smoothly for 10 years.

Whitehead said people get attached to the animals, and it is sad when they get adopted and they has to let them go, “but it also so great when you see pictures of them in their new homes with families that love them.” She said it’s an “awesome” feeling to know that she has helped to make that possible. “Plus that means we have another spot to help another dog,” she said.

Conerly said, for her, rescuing/fostering pets is rewarding because when the pets first arrive; they are scared, hungry, sick, and sad. “When they don’t even want a treat from you, only assurance and love, it’s heartbreaking,” Conerly said. “But when they leave, going to their new adoptive family and their tails are wagging…it touches us in a way that is almost impossible to describe.” She said that knowing she has made a difference in the life of a pet is “more than words can say.”

To learn more about Paws Rescue or to become a foster home, contact Leigh Conerly by email at leigh@pawsrescuepets.org or by phone at 601-529-1535.