On the heels (or paws) of their first highly successful special, SoCal animal rescue Paw Works has teamed up with Hallmark Channel again for “Tails of Joy 2.” The new special follows the Paw Works team to Louisiana where they are on a mission to clear the St. Landry’s Parish Animal Shelter with the help of Cathy Bissel’s BISSELL Pet Foundation. We caught up with Paw Works Co-Founder Chad Atkins on how the pandemic has galvanized us all to keep saving animals in need. Check out Hallmark Channel’s “Tails of Joy 2” HERE and follow Paw Works on Facebook and Instagram!
Cliché: How has the pandemic impacted Paw Works?
Chad Atkins: On March 19, COVID-19 shuttered the world as we know it. With two adoption centers in local malls, Paw Works was forced to close our locations per local ordinances and state requirements. It was at this time I realized that in order to continue our life-saving mission, I needed to have an innovative approach to animal rescue and adoptions. With my amazing team, we quickly emptied our adoption centers and created an onsite adoption center at our facility. On March 21, 2020 Paw Works held its first outdoor, mobile adoption event at our facility. With proper social distancing and mask wearing, Paw Works processed over 70 adoption and fosters that first weekend. Since the pandemic, Paw Works has had a nearly 400% increase in our adoption rate with saving over 1,500 dogs and cats in just 6 short months. (In 2019, Paw Works rescued a total of 1,640.)
Initially, many shelters were having to restrict their adoption hours due to social distancing. Have you managed to find new ways to connect people and pets?
Closing or restricting our adoptions and rescues was not an option for Paw Works. Not only do the animals that we rescue and need rescuing rely on us to continue forward, even in the worst of situations, but the individuals I employee depend on their paychecks to care for themselves and their families. With this determination and need to continue, my team and I came up with a solution to run all adoptions out of our facility, which is not usually open to the public. Although, wait times have been long for potential adopters, sometimes as long as 8 hours, my staff and community have been incredibly supportive of our process. All animals are met on a ‘first come, first served’ basis through proper social distancing and protective wear.
Your adoption rate has increased 400%! Why do you think more people are deciding to adopt during the pandemic?
Our adoption rates have always increased during summer months and holidays, when people are home more often. With stay at home orders in effect for California and many states nationwide, people suddenly had ample time to spend with a new pet. Many adopters are hesitant to adopt when they don’t feel like they have the time to give to a new pet. In addition, due to the self-quarantine rules, people have felt isolated from their friends, family and co-workers. A new pet has helped alleviate many of those negative feelings of sadness, isolation and loneliness people have felt.
Talk about your new Hallmark Channel special, Tails of Joy 2.
Hallmark Channel’s “Tails of Joy 2” follows the journey of shelter animals as they are each given a fresh start. The newest installment begins in Opelousas, Louisiana, where St. Landry’s Parish Animal Shelter takes in more than 5,000 abandoned dogs and cats each year. Striving to give as many animals as possible a second chance, the story follows one massive transport team from Michigan, Florida, and California that come together at St. Landry’s to clear the shelter of almost 200 dogs. With Cathy Bissell from Bissell Pet Foundation supporting the rescue efforts and continuing their mission “Until every pet has a home.”
Through the tireless efforts of staff, fosters, and volunteers of all ages, each animal is bathed, vaccinated, fed, microchipped, and given a warm, safe place to sleep, showing them the attention and care that all animals deserve. As each animal slowly begins to flourish, they are placed in loving homes. The story offers a powerful message of hope, encouraging everyone to adopt their next furry family member. “Tails of Joy 2” is hosted by Larissa Wohl and features rescue teams from nine rescues nationwide, including Paw Works from California.
How did people react to the first special?
We received a lot of great feedback for our first special. Through our social media presence and press interviews, people’s reactions were extremely positive. The public enjoyed seeing the destitute situations these animals came from through the process of rescue and into their fur-ever homes, or as we like to call them ‘Tails of Joy’!
Why is it so vital to continue clearing overpopulated shelters even when the rest of the world feels interrupted?
Domesticated animals have had their worlds interrupted for generations after being left to fend for themselves or abandoned at shelters and rescues. Even though adoption rates have skyrocketed for many organizations, there are still countless animals that need to be rescued. Also, pet overpopulation was created by our society for our need for excess and lack of proper care for our animals – and it is our problem to solve no matter how interrupted our lives have become.
What are the mutual benefits for both pets and prospective pet parents of choosing to foster or adopt right now?
Pets are great companions and extremely empathetic to our moods and feelings. During self-isolation, the companionship of a pet allowed many people to refocus their loneliness, desperation and fear that was experienced during the pandemic.
In addition, there are many health benefits to owning a pet. Owners of pets have statistically lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels as many times they provide increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities. This boost in health allows for a stronger immune system, which in returns leads to a longer life.
Are there ways to make our pets more comfortable as some folks start to transition back to work and school after months of being at home?
As many people transition back to work, it is crucial that we begin to get our pets on a routine that will be ideal for your work schedule. Pets thrive on routine and are at their best when their owners keep them to that routine as much as possible.
In addition, crate training is something we suggest to all our adopters and is extremely helpful in allowing our pets – especially dogs – to have a safe, comfortable space where they can rest while we work. Crate training can also assist many times with separation anxiety, which may have developed during isolation.
Finally, allowing our pets to stay at home for short periods of time while we run errands, go out for dinner, exercise, etc. will assist with them beginning to spend time by themselves. This will in-turn help you learn what additional needs your pet will have as you transition back into the work environment.
Although there are many people that would like to pretend the pandemic is over, it’s unfortunately still going strong. How can we continue to support our local animal rescues, pets, and pet owners during this time?
There are so many ways to help your local rescues and shelters. As always, financial donations are always extremely helpful in the rescue, care and adoption of animals. Non-profit animal rescues are typically run-off donations, not taxpayer dollars, and thrive on monetary donations. However, if financial help is not within your means you can always foster animals that may need a little extra help in finding their fur-ever home. As volunteering currently may not be possible at your local shelter or rescue (per COVID-19 protocol) there are always ways to volunteer your time. For example, laundry assistance, enrichment assistance, donating your business service, etc. Finally, if your local shelter or rescue has social media, it is so helpful to follow their page and share their posts. Like Paw Works at @pawworks on Instagram and Facebook!
Read more Interviews on ClicheMag.com
Hallmark Channel Spotlights Paw Works in Animal Rescue Special “Tails of Joy.” Photo Credit: ©2020 Crown Media United States LLC — Photographer: Alexx Henry – Alexx Henry Studios, LLC