Local group finds home for last-chance pets
For April Fels of Ocean View, all it took was watching a YouTube video about an animal shelter in North Carolina that used a gas chamber to put unwanted animals to sleep. Fels had always been a self-described “animal person,” but seeing the video brought it all together.
“I had always been into animals and had always taken in rescues, and in doing Internet searches I came across the video that is now posted on our site. That’s when it hit me so hard – I had to do something to help.”
Fels’ group, Paws of Tomorrow, now works with several East Coast shelters to take dogs and cats that would otherwise be put down and get them into foster homes or, ideally, into permanent adoptive families.
Many of the animals have had no recent veterinary care or may be without any medical records, so Paws of Tomorrow takes care of getting their shots up to date, deworming them, testing for heartworm and other health analyses and getting them treatment for any illnesses that are discovered.
Since starting up her Paws of Tomorrow rescue mission with four other all-volunteer staffers, Fels has saved 68 animals from certain death and matched them up with permanent families. And that doesn’t even include the approximately 30 animals they have currently living in local foster homes. The families the dogs have gone to are from Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland.
They have also transported animals to new permanent and temporary homes throughout the region and can work anywhere from North Carolina to Vermont. Two states they cannot work with because of legal issues are Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
All of this has been done without the benefit of a dedicated shelter from which to operate and with the costs of health care and transportation of the animals paid through donations, sponsorships and adoption fees.
“We do not have a shelter here. That’s the only downfall, because we don’t have the funding for it. But, 50 percent of the dogs we pulled are in foster homes.”
After she contacted the North Carolina shelter where that grisly gassing video takes place, Fels said, most of the other shelters have contacted Paws of Tomorrow for help.
“The people that work in the shelters aren’t bad people, obviously,” said Fels. “They do everything they can to try and get them adopted.”
She does admit that some shelters are not the warm and fuzzy places people might imagine, even though their hearts are in the right place – hence the need for an organization like Paws of Tomorrow.
“Shelters aren’t really a good place to be,” she said. “They are doing what they can, but there is a limited time there.”
For the short term, Fels and her crew are content on trying to work out the kinks of any new organization, such as getting set up and acquainted with a transport system that works, and getting the word out to people that they are here. She said that, in addition to rescuing shelter animals, they are willing to take owner surrenders, too.
“If they can no longer take care of the dog, we try to be the middleman,” she said of finding a new permanent home for an unwanted pet. They work mostly with dogs but do find homes for cats, too. They are working with one shelter now that has 51 cats, so they have plans to grow their operation for felines.
Over the long term, Fels said she has visions of a building a local no-kill shelter or home for the dogs and cats. She said she wants to someday call Paws of Tomorrow her full-time gig.
For more information on adoption or fostering a pet through Paws of Tomorrow, including a list of available animals, or if you or someone you know can no longer give a pet the care it needs, contact Paws of Tomorrow by e-mail at email@example.com, by phone at (302) 604- 4701 or online at www.pawsoftomorrow.com.