May 24, 2019 | 60° F

Poor Paws Rescue in New Brunswick helps lost dogs find homes


Courtesy of Vanessa Rubio | Poor Paws Rescue pulls at-risk animals from congested, high-kill shelters in the southern portion of the United States, but have taken on the occasional case from nearby shelters, and in some situations returned lost pets to their owners.

Many shelters end up having to euthanize their animals, but Poor Paws Rescue is working to turn that trend around. 

Poor Paws Rescue is a non-profit organization based out of New Brunswick that was founded by Cara Szeles, said Vanessa Rubio, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences first-year student and volunteer with the organization.

The group pulls at-risk animals from congested, high-kill shelters in the southern portion of the United States, but have taken on the occasional case from nearby shelters, and in some situations returned lost pets to their owners.

“Last year, a friend of my mother's who fostered for Poor Paws told us about her involvement, and I was so excited, we filled out an application to foster that very night from the organization’s Facebook page," Rubio said.

Poor Paws Rescue is not a shelter, it is a foster-based rescue, meaning that each dog or other animal that is transported up from a southern shelter is immediately picked up by a loving and dedicated foster family, she said.

“More than just a temporary boarding, our organization really cares for every animal’s individual needs, and they live with us in our home until they are adopted, which can be a few days or a few months depending on the pup," Rubio said.

Adoption events are held every other weekend at PetSmart in Holmdel, New Jersey, to showcase the dogs and help find their family.

The amount of animals the rescue can save is completely dependent on the number of willing and able fosters there are in New Jersey, Rubio said.

“However, us fosters do have a wide range of freedom when it comes to the number of dogs, their breed, age, etc. that we take in," she said.

Having two dogs at home already, Rubio fosters only one rescue dog at a time. Recently she has not had a rescue dog in more than one month.

After being rescued, each dog is taken in by a foster group in Georgia and cared for while receiving their required immunizations to travel. From there, they are chosen by a foster family and transported via a specialty canine transport service.

“When they arrive, their foster family takes them to adoption events and meet-and-greets until the time they are adopted. It isn’t always easy, but the work is so rewarding," Rubio said.

Poor Paws does not euthanize animals. They take in sick animals and provide them as much medical care as required in order for them to recover from medical conditions, she said. 

“Last July, I fostered two 8-week-old puppies named Patches and Gracie. (They were) born in a Georgia shelter after (their) mother had been rescued. The owners simply refused to keep a pregnant dog and had no desire to keep the puppies either," Rubio said.

Poor Paws Rescue’s founder received the puppies from the shelter and gave them to Rubio.  She found a home for Gracie right away, but Patches took longer. 

“A good friend of mine, fellow Rutgers student Daniel Tobar, was looking to add a little ball of fur to his family and after meeting, found that our rescue pup, Patches, was just the one for him," Rubio said. 

Success stories like Patches make it all worth the effort, giving homeless animals the chance to live long, healthy and happy lives, Rubio said. 

Anyone can volunteer to show the rescued dogs at adoption events. There is always a need for extra hands, as she said often more animals arrive than there are people to hold or walk them.

“This is especially true for our puppies, who wiggle and play and are always in need of someone to watch them," Rubio said.

To foster, an individual must be at least 18 years old with adequate time and room for a dog. The individual needs to be prepared to be patient and loving with rescued dogs. And more importantly, Rubio said the individual need to be prepared to let them go when they have found a home.

Many shelters in the South euthanize nearly 70 percent of the dogs. Most of these dogs have been companion animals turned in by their owners for all kinds of reasons,  few of which are the animals fault, she said.

“This appalling statistic only motivates us to continue our mission and save as many loving animals as we can and offer them the best chance of finding a forever home. Applications are available at our website and on our Facebook page, Poor Paws Rescue," Rubio said.

Prachi Biswal, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, wanted to volunteer immediately.

She said the only thing stopping her from adopting is the fact that pets are not allowed in her dorm.

“Volunteering is the next best thing. I even want to represent Poor Paws and spread the word in hopes to reach out to those who are willing and able to adopt," Biswal said.

Shelters that are quick to euthanize must view their animals as a burden, but Biswal said animals should be perceived as an opportunity — as an example for strength and perseverance. 

Jasmine Feng, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, was unaware about the Poor Paws Rescue organization but she was happy to know they do not euthanize animals.

The organization bringing the dogs out to events so they can socialize and get used to crowds and people is a great idea. she said. The dogs would also probably be less stressed outside and away from a shelter environment, so people may be more likely to adopt. 

“I would definitely want to volunteer. If I could, I would also do fostering," Feng said.


Chinmoyi Bhushan is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in computer science. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. 

Chinmoyi Bhushan

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