Island pet rescue group needs ‘a helping paw’ to remain open
“Helping one animal may not change the world, but will make a world of difference to that one animal.” – PAWS motto
A 20-year non-profit organization devoted to helping the islands stray and abandoned pets find homes and get medical care if needed faces closing its doors if more volunteers aren’t recruited.
PAWS Rescue of Sanibel might be forced to disband and stop its services if the manpower-strapped organization does not get some more people to help run the
operation, said PAWS president Kathy Boone during an interview from her home in
upstate New York.
Boone, who has helped run PAWS for nearly a decade, said volunteers and donations are needed to run the island rescue organization. The long-time volunteer and leader said she lives five months out of the year in New York and the rest of the time in Fort Myers. She also said at this point she needs someone who lives close by to replace her position.
“I need people who can respond more quickly than me,?” Boone said.
The no-kill organization takes has a basic holding facility for stray pets on Sanibel. They use this facility until pets are taken for a medical exam at the Coral Veterinary Clinic on Sanibel and then placed in nearby foster homes.
Boone estimated that PAWS takes in about 30 animals a year, mostly stray cats. Dogs, which they find now and then, are usually returned back to their owners, she added. But cats are often found with out any microchip or other identification. Often,
owners have moved and the cat becomes homeless.
While they are awaiting permanent homes, PAWS fosters the pets or – in some cases – nurses them back to health. Earlier this month, the group received four stray animals, including two needing major surgery.
“I never know when were going to get a call,?” Boone said.
Boone often gets call from the Sanibel Police Department when people have died
and their pets remain in the home. For this reason, she urges pet owners to make provisions for their pets in wills.
“They’?re an important part of the family,”? she said. “?It’?s the least we can do
for our pets.?”
But whether it?’s due to an unexpected death, moving, foreclosure or allergies, some pets on the islands are winding up homeless and dependent on the one local rescue.
The agency subsists on donations from the community. The donations help care for the pets and pay for medical treatments. In some cases, these medical needs are dire. Recently, a dog named Red was found wandering the streets of Sanibel. When found, Red immediately endeared herself to the volunteers with her friendly and sweet disposition that never wavered – despite the fact she was suffering from a tumor pressing on her ear canal. PAWS paid for Red to get surgery on her ear.
Red is still recuperating in the hospital, but staff are hoping to have a home for her to go to after she heals. PAWS is also hoping to collect donations for her vital but costly surgery.
Diane Barr, a local realtor and resident, volunteers for PAWS. She said it’s the pets that keep the busy business and family woman volunteering. She recalled a Shiba Inu/shepherd mix found tied to a tree.
“It broke my heart,”? Barr said.
But Barr’?s voice softened when she recalled ?Sanibel?’s? happy ending.
“She went to a nice home with another dog,”? she added.
In addition to volunteering her time with the animals, Barr does public relations, advertising and whatever else is needed for PAWS.
“I wish I could do more,”? she said.
Boone has her own stories, too. She can?t forget the kitten tossed out of a moving car on Periwinkle Way. He survived. And she can?t shake the image of a cat left by their owners in a trailer with the toilet open for water and some food nearby. But at least these stray, abused and homeless pets have PAWS – for now.
“If I don?t get help, we have to make a hard decision,”? Boone said.
To volunteer or donate to PAWS, call Kathy Boone at 839-5215. Checks can be made payable to PAWS and mailed to P.O. Box 855, Sanibel, FL 33957.