Portland Animal Welfare (PAW) Team is a non-profit organization that provides free basic veterinary care, parasite treatment, medical grooming, vaccinations, licensing, and food to pets of homeless and extremely low-income residents of Portland, Oregon. In doing so PAW Team offers “a unique bridge between human services and animal welfare services.” With only three part-time staff, the organization depends on volunteers to thrive—which it has since being founded in 1999. PAW Team networks with 15 organizations that serve and support a similar population, including domestic violence shelters, homeless youth, families in extreme poverty, and many others. In addition to providing veterinary care for animals, the non-profit assists in connecting clients with other social services, such as housing. In fact, PAW Team’s services are often the key to a person finding housing, since many transitional housing options require that animals be vaccinated, licensed, and spayed or neutered.
Monthly PAW Team clinics can draw upwards of 100 clients, and the organization requires that each animal is sterilized. The “brick and mortar” facility, a converted industrial office, does not have a surgical suite. Moreover, PAW Team holds clinics in parks, at low-income housing communities, with a transitional housing organization, and at the country’s only city-sanctioned homeless encampment; none of these venues is conducive to performing surgery.
This is where Zeuterin enters the story. With this non-surgical injection, PAW Team can quickly, easily, and permanently sterilize male dogs at the same time they receive their vaccinations. Zeuterin has been so successful, in fact, that PAW Team now uses it almost exclusively for sterilizing eligible male dogs—something that has saved PAW Team time and resources, and also allows male dogs to immediately return to their people. (Since there are no approved products—yet!—for cats and female dogs, PAW Team partners with Portland’s Pixie Project, Multnomah County Animal Services, and Spay and Save to surgically spay and neuter these animals.) To celebrate World Spay Day in February 2014, PAW Team offered a special Zeuterin clinic that allowed many male dogs to be sterilized, and 8 female dogs were spayed with the help of PAW Team’s spay/neuter program partners.
Many organizations provide aid to animals who are “homeless” and very much in need. PAW Team takes this mission one step further by not only helping these animals but also reaching out to the humans who love them most, and have happened to fall on hard times. By administering veterinary care to pets of Portland’s homeless residents, PAW Team keeps families and their animals together when they might otherwise be tragically separated. Protecting the bond between animals and their owners is a worthy goal, and a reality that PAW Team volunteers continually strive to actualize.