Great news from PAWS

Best Friends 7-19-15Ivana and Emily just returned from the Best Friends Annual Conference held in Atlanta this year. We made a lot of contacts and learned a great deal. You’ll be hearing a lot from us about a wonderful new FREE centralized website to help with lost, found and pets needing a home. It is being used nationwide and already making a difference in Atlanta’s Metro Area! Check it out for yourself:

Yappy Hour…Wednesday, June 24, 5 – 8 pm

Yappy copyEnjoy a “Tipsy Terrier” this Wednesday on Bourbon Street Grille’s pet friendly back deck. It’s on the square portion and a percentage of all food and drink sales goes to PAWS spay/neuter program. This effort is in its third year and showing verifiable positive results in keeping pets out of the shelters and off the streets.

Dr. Carol Falck, our holistic mobile vet, is sponsoring Yappy Hour and co-hosting; you will enjoy visiting with her while learning about her great services.

Bring dogs, friends, family, and enjoy live music, food, and beverages.

See you Wednesday… we’ll be getting yappy!

Private Grant Keeps PAWS Alive

Letter to Editor submitted to The Dahlonega Nugget:

As PAWS President, I have been actively seeking outside funds in an effort to keep the program going. After seeking numerous grants with no success, I contacted the GA Dept. of Agriculture that administers the Georgia Dog and Cat Sterilization Program. Funds for this program are donated by Georgia residents when they purchase spay/neuter license plates or make direct donations to the program.

As the legislation is written, these funds should be available for a spay/neuter program like PAWS. However, a Dept. of Agriculture rule limiting funds to shelters made PAWS ineligible since we only serve owned pets. Mr. Murrah of the Dept. acknowledged that the rule needed to be changed, and then, suggested that I ask the county to apply for PAWS.

Commissioners had already approved the county making a request of $7500 from the fund for spay/neuter in the county shelter. The maximum they could request was $10,000. Since the grant had not yet been submitted, I asked commissioners to include an additional $2500 for PAWS spay/neuter program.

When the proposal was made during the Work Session, commissioners rejected it alleging that money going through the county treasury to a non-profit would be considered a gratuity. I disagree.

I then proceeded to submit an application to the Dept. of Agriculture directly from PAWS. It will require bending the rule to accept the application but they have been known to bend a rule before. We’re doing whatever it takes to help people get their pets fixed and stop euthanasia in the county shelter.

Then like a gift from on high, two days later, PAWS Treasurer, Ivana Zaiko, called saying that PAWS had received a check for $10,000 from the DJ&T Foundation.

When I submitted that particular grant request, I had little hope that our North Georgia community would be so fortunate. Most work on the application had been completed when I saw a sentence suggesting the grants were being discontinued. So I asked for $10,000, signed and mailed the application.

The Foundation was established in 1995, by TV talk show host, Bob Barker, with a goal of providing grants to fund low-cost spay/neuter services or voucher programs. His concern was that with so many dogs and cats born, there are simply not enough homes for them, leading to mistreatment and euthanization. The DJ&T Foundation was named in memory of Barker’s wife, Dorothy Jo, and his mother, Matilda (Tilly).

PAWS record of successfully carrying out a spay/neuter program with a plan for operating into the future seems to be what’s needed to attract funding. This $10,000 award is a testament to the contributions of PAWS volunteers, our great veterinarians and the wonderful pet owners and rescuers who use PAWS’ program.

Emily Lewy, PAWS President

Will Dahlonega get a dog park?

Sandy Steel, PAWS secretary, has for several years led an effort to get a dog park in our area.  She spent years working with Lumpkin County Commissioners to obtain use of one acre for a dog park.  No money, just the use of public land not being for any other purpose.  After years of hemming and hawing, commissioners suggested she talk with the City of Dahlonega.  Following the first meeting with City Council, Sandy’s husband, Rick, had the following printed in The Dahlonega Nugget as a Letter to the Editor.  We love it!Sandy4=16-15

A letter to Local Politicians:  “They paved over paradise and put up a parking lot.”

In 2008, Sandy Steele moved from Los Angeles to a small village in the North Georgia mountains to take care of her mother, who had developed Alzheimer’s. She simply told me, “Nobody can take better care of my Mom than me!”

I had business interests in California which kept me there until the next year. Neither of us knew what to expect since we both had lived in large metropolitan areas all of our adult lives. We agreed to stay in Dahlonega, until her Mom passed away from this most horrible disease, two years later.

We planned on returning to our home in Southern California.  However, we discovered what a beautiful, healthy and peaceful place Dahlonega was compared to big city living. So we decided to stay.

Soon, Sandy unexpectedly became the parent of a rescued Border Collie named Susie. She noticed there weren’t any dog parks to take Susie located anywhere in the Dahlonega area. So, Since late 2008, she’s been working with a wonderful group to build a dog park here. Only the land need be donated.

For the next 7 years, Sandy worked as hard on this project as any in her life. Unfortunately to no avail.

To put that in perspective, during a seven year period in L.A., Sandy wrote and published four books, created a health and beauty company, wrote a weekly column for The Beverly Hills Times, produced and hosted a weekly radio show, co-wrote a screenplay for a major feature film and founded a public company… and held numerous charity events for kids at our home

I mention these accomplishments because she’s not a braggart and would never acknowledge them.

Recently she appeared in front of the local officials in Dahlonega. There was a vacant piece of property in town that could possibly be used as a one acre dog park.

Sandy provided the extensive research requested by City Councilmen. She answered all their questions. Many of her fellow dog park enthusiasts were in the room. That’s when it happened…. a councilman suggested the green space be paved over to be a parking lot.

Many in the room gasped! I”m old enough to remember the Jimmy Buffett song many years ago.  “They paved over Paradise and put up a parking lot.” The funny thing is that song is based on an actual place in Malibu that we’ve been to numerous times: Paradise Cove. And the parking lot is still there!

Sandy doesn’t know that I’ve written this letter to The Dahlonega Nugget. I simply wanted people in Dahlonega, especially dog owners, to understand how hard she’s tried to help people in your lovely village.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting three Presidents of the United States including our neighbor in Los Angeles, Ronald Reagan. I consider my wife Sandy, the most incredible person I’ve ever known.  Richard Steele