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Why I decided to co-found an animal rescue charity

Megan Baker, 21, lives in West Sussex and is one of the founders of animal rescue charity PAWS.

I’ve been involved with animal rescue charity PAWS from the start as one of its founding members.

I am the company secretary and take care of our social media. PAWS was established in January but the people who make up our team have known each other much longer, having worked together within another rescue organisation.

Despite working together for so long, most of us have never actually met and all of our meetings take place virtually. All of our big decisions have been made over Zoom or Facebook Messenger!

What is PAWS?

Paws and Whiskers Sussex is a not-for-profit organisation working to remove the stigma surrounding foreign rescue.

We rescue cats and dogs from Romania and also take in those surrendered to us from the UK. People can be sceptical about rescuing foreign animals so our aim from the start has been to always be transparent with our supporters and, of course, to put the welfare of our cats and dogs above anything else.

This is why all of our cats and dogs spend a minimum of a two-week assessment period in foster. With the information our foster team provides us with, we can be sure our animals are getting the care they need and match them with the right adopters.

Have you always been an animal lover?

I come from a family that believes a house isn’t a home without a pet, so I’ve always been an animal lover.

Lockdown last year provided the perfect opportunity to foster for the first time and within the space of six months, we welcomed a total of 11 dogs into our home. I currently have one dog called Dolly, a sassy Romanian rescue, and my dream is to have my own pack one day!

What’s it like working for a charity?

Being part of PAWS has been amazing. It has given me such a sense of purpose and connected me with some lovely and equally animal-obsessed people.

Every time we reserve another cat or dog, it’s as exciting as the first time. The animals mean so much to us and we feel really lucky that we get to make a difference in their lives. If they weren’t brought over to the UK, most of the cats and dogs we save wouldn’t have had a chance. It can be challenging sometimes though. When you see all the innocent faces waiting for someone to rescue them, it can get a bit overwhelming. We wish we could rescue all of them but each animal we take from the shelter frees up a space for another, which means two lives are saved.

How does the animal rescue service work?

A lot of the acknowledgement needs to be given to our rescuers in Romania and our foster team in the UK, who are as much a part of PAWS as its owners.

We work with Happy Tails, a shelter in Romania, which rescues from kill shelters where dogs are given 14 days to be collected by their owners before being euthanised. These dogs are almost always abandoned on purpose or have lived on the streets for their whole lives. Happy Tails work so hard to give them the chance for a better life in the first place.

Our fosters go above and beyond for our animals. Welcoming previously stray cats and dogs into your home isn’t easy, many of them are traumatised and need a lot of time, patience and love before they can trust again. We know our animals are as special to our fosters as their own pets and we all love seeing updates on how they’re getting on in our Facebook group.

Our fosters work such magic on these cats and dogs; there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing a previously frightened and confused animal sent off with their new families as a happy and healthy pet.

To find out more, visit the PAWS Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pawsussex

 

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.
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