Sadie could be a poster dog for animal rescue groups. The white boxer-bulldog is one of millions of animals that suffer abuse from their owners and is a good example of why people volunteer countless hours each week to animal rescue.
Sadie has become just one symbol of the work dozens of Paws & Prayers volunteers accomplish each week.
“She’s one of those dogs that puts her arms around your shoulders and kisses you. She is a sweet, sweet girl,” said Jen D’Aurelio, executive director of Paws & Prayers, a nonprofit animal rescue group with an office in Cuyahoga Falls.
Quietly and with little fanfare, volunteers from the rescue have taken a bite out of what once seemed to be an insurmountable problem: finding homes for stray animals that might otherwise be euthanized or live out their lives in a 4-foot-by-4-foot cage.
D’Aurelio pulls unwanted animals from Summit County Animal Control, taking the animals that have been at the pound the longest. She takes the hard-to-place big, black and brindle dogs people shy away from adopting, and places them with foster families until her volunteers find them homes.
Her volunteers also find homes for animals from the Humane Society of Greater Akron.
By the time Paws & Prayers offers the rescues to new owners, each dog and cat has been spayed or neutered and received all its shots and any needed medical attention.
“Just having that ‘one’ litter can result in the birth of over 11,000 kittens in five years; puppies … over 12,000. If we all want our community to be no-kill, then we all have to step up and spay and neuter our pets,” D’Aurelio said.
When the supply of canines at the pound dips, as it did during the county’s last adoption event, volunteers take in the hard-luck cases from surrounding counties, which is how the rescue found Sadie.
In February, the dog ended up at the Wayne County Humane Society, where vets repaired her paw, which had been crushed. Things looked up for Sadie until she started showing signs of canine parvovirus, a highly contagious and often fatal disease easily preventable with a basic vaccination.
The Wayne group sent out an SOS: Sadie would be euthanized if someone didn’t come forward to help her.
Paws & Prayers’ reach frequently stretches beyond the Summit County border, especially because some of its volunteers do similar work in neighboring counties. When D’Aurelio learned about Sadie, she had the dog transferred to the Stark County Emergency Vet Clinic, where she was treated for parvo and kept under observation.
After several weeks and $1,000 in medical bills, a healthy Sadie found a new home at a weekly adoption event in Green.
In just four years, Paws & Prayers has increased its adoptions from 176 in 2007 to finding homes for almost 1,500 dogs and cats last year.
The group has been so successful with dog rescue, D’Aurelio has challenged her team of volunteers to rescue 1,000 cats in 2012.
“As many as 40 percent of our rescues are cats, but there is such a huge need in the county, we want to get as many of them altered and into homes as quickly as possible,” she said.
With an influx of new volunteers, especially from the ranks of University of Akron students, D’Aurelio thinks its possible to reach the goal.
“I just want to make a difference,” she said.
The agency, which partners with area PetSmarts, where volunteers show adoptable animals each Saturday, is helping the Chapel Hill PetSmart get corporate recognition and approval for an expansion.
You can find Paws & Prayers volunteers and their foster animals each Saturday at PetSmarts in Chapel Hill, the Montrose area of Fairlawn, Medina and Macedonia and Pet Supplies Plus in Green.
Times for each station and available animals can be found at www.pawsandprayers.org.
More adoption events
Akron Law’s Puppy Day will be 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. April 18 at the west entrance of the law school at the University of Akron. The event is being put on by the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF), an organization that advocates humane treatment of animals and promotes progressive animal-related laws in Ohio.
Scheduled to take place just before law school finals, the event’s purpose is to raise awareness of hundreds of adoptable animals at local shelters and to help relieve the stress of law school exams for students.
Proceeds will go toward defraying Sadie’s medical bills.
PetSmart at Chapel Hill will be the site of a cat adoption event May 4-6. A “Cinco de Gato” (a play on Cinco de Mayo) celebration will feature dozens of fully vetted and altered cats that will be available at the discounted price of $5.
There will be a 24-hour cat adoption marathon at Chapel Hill Mall June 23-24.
Other animals in the news
• Petco National Adoption Weekend will run 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 14-15 at all Petco locations to help shelter dogs and cats find homes.
• The annual Shutterbug Photo Contest will run through Sept. 30 at the Akron Zoo. Participants started snapping photos of their favorite animals, landscapes and exhibits April 1. To assist aspiring photographers, the zoo will host a workshop provided by Dodd Camera 10 a.m. to noon April 14. The workshop will provide tips and tricks of nature photography as well as in-the-field training.
The contest is an opportunity for amateur photographers to win prizes for their best shots. There are three age categories: ages 11 and under, ages 12-17, and adults 18 and over. Registration is required and the fee for the workshop is $20, which includes parking and entrance to the zoo. For information, visit www.akronzoo.org on the Web.
• Just in time for Easter Sunday, the Humane Society of the United States is cautioning people not to buy baby chicks and rabbits this holiday season.
“Rabbits and chickens can make wonderful companions, but those adorable babies grow up quickly into adults that will need proper socialization, care and companionship for many years,” said Inga Fricke, the society’s director of sheltering and pet-care issues.
The group suggests people consider giving children a plush toy or chocolate rabbit.
Kathy Antoniotti writes about pets for the Akron Beacon Journal. She is unable to help locate, place or provide medical attention for an individual animal. If you have an idea or question about pets, write her at the Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640; call 330-996-3565; or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.