Written by Lynn MolnerPhotography Anna Grace Photography, LLC
Keeping pets with their families when times are tough. The rescue before the rescue.
At Thankful Paws, the heart behind what we do is founded in the belief that people need love. In today’s society, there are so many people living in volatile circumstances, struggling to pay their bills and to keep their family together. Everyone’s stress levels are exacerbated. Unfortunately, some people panic and decide to abandon or put down their faithful pet. They are weary of fighting the financial fight and they are losing sight of hope and giving into fear. They begin to make wrong assumptions about who they are and what their future will be like. Some people think that surrendering their pet is the right thing to do, the responsible decision, but some people disagree. We begin to question what love is. We begin to wonder if love is irresponsible if it involves a struggle.
Thankful Paws is primarily a mobile food bank for pets. Its main purpose is to help those in need keep their pets by delivering pet food and supplies. However, we can only focus on the elderly and homeless right now because the need for our services is so great and the funds and resources are so little. During this difficult economic time, some pet charities, pet food banks and rescues have had their governmental funding reduced, stopped offering services or even had to close their doors.
At Thankful Paws – we don’t receive any governmental funding and are fully supported by the donations of individuals and foundations. We have been operating debt free for five years. We need a warehouse/office, a delivery van/truck and of course food, but we – like so many people – do the best we can with what we have available. Thankful Paws has helped feed thousands of pets, and delivered over sixty-seven tons of pet food to help prevent pets from being abandoned or surrendered. We believe in helping keep the family together. We like to say that Thankful Paws is the rescue before the rescue. It is a lot more humane and cost effective to keep the pet in the existing home rather than send the pet to a shelter.
Imagine for a moment, you have your pet with you, and life is good. You and your pet have a nice home with plenty of food. However, lately, there have been rumors about layoffs at work, and with each passing day you get nervous about your job. You are worried about losing your home, and what the future will be like? Then, it happens, you get a two-week termination notice. As time goes by, you have been doing everything you can to get a job and get any assistance, but the landlord wants his rent, and you don’t have it. You scrimp to save and pawn everything you own just to keep your home. You want to keep your pet, and do everything you can, but you are scared and have no one to turn to.
What do you do? You decide one day that you will get up and close the door to your home, with your pet inside, for the last time. You hope and pray that someone kind and loving finds your beloved pet, and that your pet will understand why you had to abandoned him. You roll the dice on a fifty-fifty chance that your pet will not be sent to the local kill shelter. The other option is that you close the door to your home with your pet in your arms. You roll the dice and struggle to stay together while living on the streets. You try to get assistance, perhaps stay at a shelter while your dog stays outside, but you worry – what if someone takes your dog? You discover that you can’t leave your dog outside. You discover that most people look at you with disgust and shame. They look at you like a failure, sometimes yelling at you, sometimes cursing at you that you are worthless. You want to tell them that only a few months ago, you were working in an office and that you even graduated college. But no one will listen to you. Soon, you discover, there aren’t any shelters that help people with pets. It is either abandon your pet and come inside the shelter or stay outside living in a park. There is nothing in between.
Recently through Thankful Paws, we helped a lady who escaped a domestic abuse situation. She fled from another state and came with her baby and her dog. I am not sure how she found us, but her bravery motivates and propels me to believe in the work of Thankful Paws. Here was a lady risking it all to protect not just her child but also her dog.
It would have been easier for her to leave the dog behind, but she knew if she left the dog, he would be abused and probably beaten to death. There are few provisions for people who are escaping abusive relationships with pets. Let’s work together and try to help all those in need. No one person can solve all of society’s problems, but together we can solve some, and create a pathway to help more.
We never know how a stranger’s life will impact us. People and pets come into our lives for a reason.
Some we wish stayed longer, but only God holds time in His hands. The choice is ours how we live. We can choose to live like a dog, never harboring hatred, forgiving and forgetting, and living in the moment.
Conversely, we can choose to live begrudgingly, and with each passing year close our hearts to unconditional love. God is the author of unconditional love and it is through Him that we have the ability to love. Pets bring out that love in our hearts. Let us not be afraid to share love with others. Dogs never miss an opportunity to wag their tails, let’s celebrate our friends and welcome the strangers in our lives. We never know when love will enter our lives. We never know, what the stranger – or even friend – in our life is going through. Dogs are always kind, forgiving and welcoming. It may be silly to say, but I want to be more like a dog!
Thankful Paws would like to invite you to our 5th Annual Fundraiser at the Village of Cross Keys in Baltimore on Friday, October 14, 2016. Doors open at 6:30pm.
This year we are honored to host national pet expert, Denise Fleck as our keynote speaker.
Denise has dedicated her life to pet safety and humane education. She has been featured on popular TV shows such as Pit Boss, The Doctors, Kirstie Alley’s Big Life and so many more!
Please join us as we welcome her and the Southern Pet Safety Tour and as we celebrate Thankful Paws’ accomplishments: • Over 2 million meals delivered • More than 67 tons of pet food and supplies picked up and delivered • Maryland’s 1st mobile food bank for pets • Maryland’s Only mobile food bank for pets • Maryland’s 1st food bank for pets • Each month we help about 100 families in Harford, Baltimore and Howard Counties Please join us at our special event, and learn about how we are expanding our services to include humane education partnerships with schools and the community. Later this year, a new children’s book about Thankful Paws’ own, Hero the Golden, will be available for purchase as well as school reading programs. Please subscribe to our free e-newsletter to stay up to date on our current events.
We also welcome you to become a monthly supporter of Thankful Paws. For just as little as $15 a month – that’s fifty cents a day – you will make an impact in the lives of not just the pets we serve but also the people. Your generosity will be helping keep pets with their family – helping both be happy, accepted, loved and secure. We are believing for a hundred people who are committed to love who will become monthly partners with us for one year. Be someone who loves – and be someone who shares that love to encourage our neighbors.
In these crazy times, we can stand together and show our support for each other. To sign up, visit our website at THANKFULPAWS.ORG. What better way, than to help people keep their pets and learn the value of love.