In the last week or so, we were incredibly lucky to have worked with Rebecca Charles and Zachary Goodman. They volunteered to deliver food to some of our clients. It was a big delivery, with multiple stops spread throughout the Los Angeles area, but they took to the task enthusiastically and did a great job. We always want to check in with our volunteers to see how their experience went. Rebecca offered us this testimonial:
Hi, my name is Rebecca Charles, and I am a volunteer with PAWS LA.
I found PAWS LA via a professor at UCLA, who recommended a few websites to find volunteer opportunities. Being someone that loves animals, when I saw that PAWS LA helped not only people, but their pets also, it made a lot of sense for me to reach out to them.
The process of signing up for an opportunity was incredibly easy. Once you contact PAWs, you provide a few details and choose a specific activity to help with. The organization provides so many options, from delivering pet food to senior citizens and veterans, to pet grooming, to fostering, and even helping with their social media. All the coordinators are very friendly and work with you to help find which volunteer opportunities fit best for you.
I figured I’d start with delivery so I could potentially meet some of those receiving the food and their pets. The food was previously packed by other volunteers, so we matched up which pets needed which food items, then loaded it into our vehicle with the help of the coordinators. After that we contacted the clients about when they would like the food delivered. The whole process was easy and fun. It was nice to get to meet the clients and even some of the pets. Seeing those in need’s appreciation for such a small act of kindness was amazing. One client even left me a very nice voicemail thanking me for the delivery.
Volunteering made me realize that many people, especially those with service animals, may struggle to get food for their pets as they are typically heavy and expensive. This really put into perspective how important an organization like PAWS LA is. The experience of volunteering was incredibly rewarding. It allowed me to connect with people from different backgrounds and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges they face. It was heartwarming to see the joy on the clients’ faces’ as they received their food, and the happiness of their pets as they played and interacted with me.
It was also an opportunity to learn new skills, such as communication and problem-solving, as each delivery presented unique challenges.
I can’t wait to keep volunteering with PAWS LA in the future!
Thanks again Rebecca. Volunteers are the lifeblood of PAWS/LA and we hope to work with you again in the future!
To volunteer with us email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our website for more info.
This is a companion piece to our Pet of the Week segment, where we profile a pet and their owner from our community. Usually, we get a little time with the pairing, and as much information as we can gather from a brief interview. This time, however, I was able to spend time with a dog who is very much part of my family, and this encouraged me to pause and think a little more carefully about why keeping pets and people together is important—not because it’s the mission statement of PAWS/LA, and our funding depends on it, but because there’s something in the relationship between human and animals that speaks to our better natures, our best selves.
The dog in this case, is named Clementine, a tiny pug-mutt bundle belonging to my brother, Ross, and his wife, Brooke. Clemmie was rescued during the pandemic and needed a lot of healing. Whatever had happened to her before she was adopted wasn’t pleasant. Physically, she was fine, but psychologically, she presented as frightened and skittish. There were clear signs that she’d suffered abuse of some kind, and her relationship with humans was clearly rooted in fear. Every noise would set her off barking, and she found it difficult to be left alone for even an hour. In fits of fear, she would behave maniacally, ripping apart shoes and eating furniture. She was hostile to other dogs, which was dangerous given her diminutive size, and the likelihood of her coming out poorly in a fight with a larger animal.
None of this was helped by the fact that my brother lives in a noisy neighborhood, where it isn’t unusual for fireworks to fire off randomly throughout the day and night. These sounds would send Clemmie darting beneath a chair where she would crouch for hours, shivering. When she saw humans interacting with each other, she would become fiercely defensive, mistaking affection for aggression; she was always trying to “save” us from hugs and embraces.
It was difficult, but I know that Ross and Brooke loved her from the start. They stepped up as every pet parent should, even when Clemmie often required more care and attention than a newborn baby. She was a significant presence that changed the way they lived. But instead of growing frustrated and abandoning her, they worked hard to help her process and adapt to her new life. In turn, her healing facilitated their growth. Of course, Clem’s personality remains skittish, and she still likes to pick fights with other dogs she meets on the street, but generally she is calmer, more at ease, and now capable of spending an hour alone in an apartment.
The bond she has with her owners is starkly evident. Last weekend, Ross and Brooke went out of town, and we took Clemmie to the desert to watch her while they were gone. For the first day or two, she appeared despondent and lethargic, lying around for hours, moving only to eat. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that dogs miss their owners as much as owners miss their dogs, and there is far more nuance to the relationship than an animal simply needing fed and sheltered. Watching Clemmie’s change in behavior, provided significant testament to the power of this bond. Even my brother, who is usually stoic to a fault, had to walk away quickly once he’d dropped her off, so that he wouldn’t start to cry.
After a day or so, Clemmie grew accustomed to her new environment, although it was interesting to see her connection to my brother and sister-in-law continue to play out indirectly. She was more drawn to my father and myself than to my mother, because as males in the family, we bear a closer resemblance to Ross. Certain smells also clearly reminded her of home, and she made her base of operation the spare bedroom that Ross and Brooke usually stay in when they visit, as if some comforting essence of them lingered there.
Besides all this, the human-animal bond finds maybe its fiercest expression in the way animals interact with children, in this case my son. Kids and animals love without reason, without thinking about it; they love simply because love is their nature, undisturbed by the hardening experiences of adult life. Watching them together was watching something pure, even when they tormented each other; even when Clemmie jumped up and accidentally scratched Isaac; when he splashed her with water, or she knocked him off a wall. Any slight or inconvenience was forgotten a second later, when they were lying together, and he was rubbing her belly.
I do not know what makes our bond with Clemmie any different from that shared between millions of owners and animals throughout LA and beyond. Really, it is something beyond expression, something that defies description. At the end of the day, it hardly matters. Just because something can’t be described, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The bond is real, and we see it everywhere. This is why we can’t allow hardship to separate animals from their owners. It is precisely at times of hardship that the bond is most powerful, and in the crucible of existence, with all its raw suffering and joy, animals and humans work in a way that ensures the growth of one becomes the growth of the other. It is not a linear, causal system, but a dynamic relationship of give and take, a dialectic of love and respect. At least, it should be.
Summer is here! We think. Maybe. It’s supposed to be, but who knows with the weather these days? Anyway, once the June gloom lifts, we’ll see sunshine, warmth, and plenty of outdoor activity. As pet owners, it's essential to prioritize the safety and well-being of our beloved companions during this time. The scorching heat can pose various risks to pets, such as dehydration, heatstroke, and burns. In this blog post, we will explore some crucial tips and guidelines to ensure the safety of your pets in the summer months.
Just like humans, pets need to stay properly hydrated to beat the summer heat. Ensure that your pets always have access to fresh, clean water. Consider placing multiple water bowls in different areas of your home and yard to encourage them to drink regularly. If you're heading out for a walk or a day trip, carry water and a portable bowl for your pet. This way, you can provide them with hydration whenever needed.
BEWARE OF SCORCHING SURFACES
Pavements and asphalt can become scorching hot during the summer, causing severe burns to your pet's paws. Before taking your dog for a walk, test the ground with the back of your hand. If it feels too hot for you, it's too hot for your furry companion. Opt for walks during cooler times of the day, such as early morning or late evening, when the pavement is less likely to be scalding. Alternatively, consider investing in protective booties for your dog's paws.
PROVIDE SHADE AND VENTILATION
Creating a cool and comfortable environment for your pet is crucial during the summer. Ensure that your pets have access to shaded areas in your yard, whether it's under a tree or with the help of a sunshade or umbrella. If your pet spends most of their time indoors, keep the curtains closed during the hottest parts of the day to prevent excess heat from entering your home. Use fans or air conditioning to maintain a comfortable temperature indoors. Never, leave your pet in a parked car, even with the windows cracked, as the temperature can rise to dangerous levels within minutes.
be careful with exercise
While regular exercise is essential for your pet's well-being, it's crucial to be mindful of the intensity and duration of activities during hot summer days. Avoid rigorous exercise during peak hours and opt for shorter, more frequent walks instead. Consider taking your pet for a swim as a fun and refreshing way to keep them active without overheating. Remember to rinse off chlorine or saltwater after swimming, as it can irritate their skin.
watch for signs of heat stroke
Heatstroke is a severe condition that requires immediate attention. Be vigilant for symptoms such as excessive panting, lethargy, drooling, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, or difficulty breathing. If you notice any of these signs, move your pet to a cool area immediately, apply cool (not cold) water to their body, and contact your veterinarian right away.
ENJOY YOUR SUMMER
As pet owners, it's our responsibility to keep our furry friends safe and comfortable during the summer months. By following these essential tips, you can ensure that your pets enjoy the season while avoiding the risks associated with excessive heat. Remember to prioritize hydration, provide shade and ventilation, avoid hot surfaces, exercise with caution, and be aware of the signs of heatstroke. With these precautions in place, you and your pets can have a joyful and worry-free summer together.
We love our pets! They're precious companions, maybe even part of the family. It's essential that we ensure their well-being and safety, especially when a crisis strikes. Natural disasters or unexpected emergencies don't politely announce themselves. They can occur at any moment, leaving us with little time to react. This is especially true in California, with the ever-present threats of wildfires, earthquakes and flooding. Assembling and maintaining a well-prepared emergency kit for our pets helps ensures you're ready for anything, and provides peace of mind outside of a disaster scenario. In this blog post, the PAWS/LA team will discuss the essential items and steps required to assemble an effective emergency kit. You can also download a comprehensive and printable emergency kit checklist from the CDC website.
PAWS/LA Pet Alert Emergency Sticker
In case of disaster, it's important than emergency responders are aware that you are a pet owner, and that there may be an animal in your house. Check out our Pet Alert Emergency Sticker. You can display this on your front door or windows to let emergency workers know how many animals they need to account for, as well as their species. This enables them to act fast. In case you're not present, the sticker also includes your contact info. You can order your free sticker by clicking here.
Gather important documents
The first step in creating a pet emergency kit is to gather all the necessary documents related to your pet. These documents may include vaccination records, medical history, identification papers, and contact information for your veterinarian. Make sure to store them in a waterproof bag or folder and keep a digital copy as a backup.
FOOD AND WATER SUPPLIES
When disaster strikes, access to food and clean water may be limited. Ensure you have a sufficient supply of your pet's regular food stored in airtight containers to maintain its freshness. It is recommended to store at least a week's worth of food for your pet. Additionally, pack portable bowls for both food and water, and remember to rotate the food supply periodically to avoid expiration.
Medications and first aid
If your pet requires regular medication, ensure you have a sufficient supply in your emergency kit. Include a first aid supplies specifically designed for pets, which should contain items such as bandages, antiseptic solution, tweezers, and any necessary medications prescribed by your veterinarian. Familiarize yourself with basic pet first aid procedures or enroll in a pet first aid course to be well-prepared in case of an emergency.
Comfort and familiarity
Disasters can be stressful for pets, and having familiar items can provide them with comfort during uncertain times. Pack their favorite blanket, toys, and any other items that bring them comfort. These familiar objects can help reduce anxiety and provide a sense of security.
leashes collars and carriers
In an emergency, you may need to evacuate with your pet quickly. Ensure you have a sturdy leash and collar readily available for each pet. Additionally, invest in a secure and properly sized pet carrier that is easily transportable. Practice using the carrier with your pet beforehand to reduce stress during an actual emergency.
Maintaining cleanliness and hygiene is essential for your pet's health. Pack a supply of poop bags, litter, litter trays (for cats), and cleaning supplies such as pet-friendly disinfectants. These items will help you keep your pet's environment clean and reduce the risk of diseases.
up to date identification info
In chaotic situations, it is common for pets to become separated from their owners. Ensure your pet's identification is up to date. A collar with identification tags and a securely fitted microchip with your contact information are vital in helping reunite you with your pet if you get separated.
you can never be too prepared
You can never be too prepared. Although we don't want to live our lives anticipating disaster, taking a little time to create an emergency kit for your pet allows you to relax in the knowledge that you're ready for anything. By being prepared, you can minimize stress and provide comfort to your beloved companion when it matters most. Remember to periodically check and replenish supplies, so your emergency kit remains up to date. Taking these proactive steps will help you face emergencies with confidence, knowing that you have everything you need to protect and care for your beloved animals. And who knows, maybe they'll end up protecting and taking care of you!
Our blog is managed by Ryan Hilary with additional contributions from the PAWS/LA team. Are you a member of our community and have a great idea for a post (or maybe want to write one yourself?). Reach out to Rhilary@pawsla.org.