Each year during the holiday season, many children will find robots, action figures, or other toys under the tree or given to them on one of the nights of Hanukkah. For a special few, a Christmas morning I wish I got to experience while growing up, some children will pull out of a box, a new, four-legged best friend.
Dogs are one of the most influential beings in some peoples lives. They quickly become members of the family and are treated just as anyone would treat a close friend or family member. While some dogs get to be the luck ones with a bow tied to the collar, others live their lives in shelters and in the care of the Athens community and one local organization in town, Paws for a Cause.
Paws for a Cause is a student organization on campus centered on helping out with the Athens County Dog Shelter and the Friends of Shelter Dogs and the employees there. The organization raises fund for the shelter and dogs, donate supplies and especially their time to helping these animals get the love and attention they need. Vice President of Paws for a Cause Savannah Williams elaborated more on the organization,
“Paws for a Cause is a non profit organization that was formed by Ohio University students,” Williams said, “every penny that we raise goes directly back to the shelter for their needs including the sick and injured fund where we help to provide medical treatment to the dogs that normally wouldn’t be able to have those procedures done due to limited funding.”
Not only do they spend their time working at the shelter and with the dogs, members of the organization also spend their time raising awareness for shelter dogs.
Play Time with Puppies is at the residential halls where the RA’s put on an event for their residents and we bring dogs from the shelter that they can play with for an hour or two,” Williams said, “we also do numerous bake sales/raffles here on campus with the dogs throughout the year that tend to be holiday themed, we had one for Halloween where we put the dogs in costumes, it was a blast.”
Other events the organization puts on include adoption events at the local PetsMart on Saturdays as a way of bringing the dogs to potential families as well as trips to Laurel’s nursing home, where residents get a chance to interact with the dogs and give the dogs some attention.
Shelter dogs, unlike those bred from a private breeder, face more challenges. Not only do dogs brought to a shelter have some form of a past, one that could lead to the dog being a certain way or looking a certain way, they also have to deal with finding a home. Dogs can not stay in the shelter forever, there is not enough room to hold every dog that needs a temporary home until the right family walks in the door and that causes some dogs to be put down when they have been in the shelter for too long.
“I often get asked “How can you volunteer and see them all and not want to adopt every single one?” That was hard for me at first, you’d leave feeling sad that you couldn’t do more,” Williams said, “But now I look at it and see how many families get to adopt an amazing new member into their home, and my work is just the in between. To be a part of that is all I could ever ask for”
Many loving dogs are in shelters just waiting for the right owner, and as a benefit of adopting from a shelter, dogs get treated, vaccinated, and taken care of before being introduced to their new family. Not only are the animals properly cared for before adoption, it is also a cheaper option for most families with adoption costs usually around the $200 mark as opposed to the $1,000+ price tag of a pure bred dog.
“Every time that I see one of the dogs find it’s forever home due to an event that we put on I couldn’t be happier,” Williams said.
The shelter also has started a foster program for people to foster dogs at their homes while they continue to search for a new family for the dog. This program lets people help the dogs, while also getting the experience of what it is like to have a dog in the house, a great idea for those interested in potentially adopting.
It is important to note that when adopting a dog, one should be ready for the commitment and responsibility it takes to own and raise a dog. One of the hardest things a shelter can see is a dog return back to their shelter because of something that happened.
Paws for a Cause meets every Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in Grover, but if you feel like helping in a different way the group is always looking for donations of things such as dog food, blankets, and first-aid items. Pine Sol is also the biggest need of the shelter. If you would like more information about the organization follow @oupawsforacause on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and look for events involving the organization on campus.
*All photos used in this piece are of dogs currently available for adoption at the Athens County Dog Shelter, follow the link here for the complete list of adoptable dogs in Athens: http://www.fosdathens.com/#!adopt/cihc