Paws Rescue operates as business with heart

Published 11:00 am Friday, September 12, 2014

It all started with one phone call from the city pound about a stray dog 10 years ago. Leigh Conerly has turned that one encounter into years of dedicated service to cats and dogs in the Warren County area. Paws Rescue celebrated its anniversary in July, and Conerly spoke at a Kiwanis Club luncheon at Goldie’s this week about the organization she started on a whim.

“Three ladies started it. One of them has passed away and one of them is still in the organization, but we talk about it all the time,” Conerly said. “We used to get so worried about money and how we’re going to pay the vet bill once a week.”

Things have become a little easier now that Paws Rescue has established itself over the years, vaccinating and spaying 2,670 cats and 875 dogs in the last decade. The in-house shelter has also helped find permanent homes for 922 dogs and counting since that first encounter back in 2004.

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It is this passionate dedication from her and about twenty regular volunteers that have helped the non-profit thrive in an area with high stray rates.

“It’s committed people,” Conerly said. “You have to have a good business sense, and we’ve tried to run it basically — from our hearts, of course — as a business. I think that’s one reason why it’s maintained.”

Right now there are 45 pets being fostered by volunteers in Paws Rescue. Conerly houses nine dogs and three cats at her personal home, and while it may get crowded and a little overwhelming at times, she believes it’s very much worth it at the end of the day.

“It’s very tiring, but it’s very rewarding as well. We’re all committed to helping animals and there’s a need here,” she said. “With three organizations, there shouldn’t be that many homeless animals running around, but there is.”

Because Paws Rescue operates from homes, potential suitors aren’t able to adopt on site, so the organization hosts meet-and-greets throughout the region. The next one is being held this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at PetSense on Pemberton Square Blvd.

For more information on Paws Rescue, call 601-529-1535 or visit