Cliché: How did you first get involved working with animals?
CHAD: In 2003, I moved to San Francisco with my partner and began pursuing a career in the growing industry of pet care. For the next 10 years, I owned and operated SLP Doggy Day Care in San Francisco and Ventura County. Over this period, I realized my drive for my career was diminishing, and although my love for animals was ever present, my business was not reflecting this passion. It was then in mid-2013 that one of my clients approached me to help with a local nonprofit animal rescue.
What was the motivation behind launching Paw Works?
CHAD: After volunteering for a local nonprofit animal rescue, I noticed a lot of pitfalls that many rescues fall into, i.e., not running as an efficient, effective business that utilizes the goodwill of its community. It was this frustration that catapulted my desire to take my knowledge and skill to make a larger impact within my community and animals’ lives overall. On January 17, 2014 Paw Works was co-founded by Christina Morgan and myself. We felt our biggest impact would occur directly within our community first, so we dedicated all our time, financial resources and energy by making Ventura County, a No-Kill County, something we helped facilitate within the first 30 days of operation.
How did the opportunity to collaborate with the Hallmark channel come about?
LARISSA: As the on-camera Pet Rescue Expert for Hallmark Channel’s “Adoption Ever After” initiative, I’m constantly looking for wonderful rescues to collaborate with! I followed Paw Works on Instagram for a while and reached out to have them come on our show, “Home & Family” a couple years ago. Chad and I have been friends ever since and I really admire how much hard work and dedication he (and his team) put into their efforts.
CHAD: For several years, it has been my dream to be able to show the world how hard but rewarding animal rescue is. From the eclectic people who do it, to the amount of time, money and resources it takes, animal rescue is much less of a passion and more of a lifestyle.
Through our close proximity to Los Angeles, Paw Works has had opportunities to work with media networks, celebrities and press in order to further our mission. We had established a relationship with Larissa Wohl, host of Adoption Ever After on Home & Family. From this relationship, we established a connection with Kristi Foley, Pleasant Street Entertainment, who produces all of Hallmark Channel’s preview specials, to bring dogs and cats to set for. From these preview specials, a friendship and common passion and love for animals developed between myself and Kristi. It was at this point, that I approached Kristi about this idea and the journey to Hallmark’s Channel “Tails of Joy” began.
Talk about your new special, Tails of Joy.
LARISSA: Hallmark’s Channel “Tails of Joy” is an extremely exciting project for all of us. Hallmark Channel and myself are so passionate about educating the public on what the rescue world is really like and this special will give viewers an inside look! You’ll get the opportunity to follow 60 homeless animals that are transported from rural shelters in Central California to their new life at Paw Works… and eventually to their forever homes. You’ll see the grooming, love, medical care, training, rehabilitation and emotional toll it can take to transform these death row babies into beautiful pets! It’s a true Cinderella story with the ultimate happy ending!
What do you wish more people understood about rescue animals?
CHAD: What I wish more people understood about rescue animals is that just like people, they deserve the time and patience to be who they were meant to be. That their ability to love and accept is unconditional and incomparable to anything else we can experience. Also, just like people, no animal is broken, but comes with an established set of life experiences and scars that make them who they are today.
LARISSA: This is a hard question because there’s SOOO much I could say! I wish people understood that the behavior of a rescue animal oftentimes (if not always) reflects how they have been treated. So if you see an animal that’s showing signs of aggression/nervousness/fear, it’s NOT because it’s a “bad dog” or a “problematic dog,” it’s because that’s the behavior they had to pick up for survival.
If we can help teach people the “WHY”, I believe they will have more compassion and understanding for these animals. These babies WANT to trust and love and are super resilient… they just need someone who will give them a second chance and teach them what love is!
What does it feel like to be able to save the lives of so many abandoned animals in Southern California?
CHAD: Frustrating but rewarding. The fact that there is a need for Paw Works to even exist is unfortunate and every day my goal is to put myself out of business. Until that day, I wake up every morning with a new sense of drive and passion.
LARISSA: I always say that there’s no rest in rescue because even though It feels amazing to know that we are impacting so many animals, there are always millions more that need help. The overpopulation and abuse of animals is a true epidemic and we need EVERYONE to get onboard to make real change. That said, when I take the time to really reflect on the animals that we have saved, it’s an indescribable feeling. I am so lucky and grateful to be doing what I do and I can only hope to keep growing and expanding our efforts!
What does the support of your community mean to you?
CHAD: Everything! Running a nonprofit is not like any other business. Not only must you have the business know-how and the emotional capacity to see the best and worst in humanity, but also encourage your community to support your service without any direct physical benefit. In the rescue world we call our community “Our Village.” It’s this Village of animal lovers and advocates that is truly the deciding factor of whether we continue our life saving mission or not.
LARISSA: The support of the community is everything! There’s a saying in rescue that “it takes a village” and it certainly does! We can keep saving animals left and right, but until the community steps in to stop the problem from happening in the first place, we’ll just be going in circles! I think that animal rescue is at such an exciting place right now because people are really waking up to the situation and saying they want to do something to help!
What can people do to help further support Paw Works?
CHAD: Honestly, there is so much people can do.
Advocate: Follow us on social media. Share our content, like our posts, and comment.
Support: Attend our events and collaborations.
Donate: Running at $1.2M+ a year in expenses, every donation matters! Whether it be $5 or $500, or dog beds and collars, to supporting spay & neuter efforts or other life-saving surgeries. Every bit donated assists us in saving more animals.
Volunteer: Assist the staff in helping get animals ready for their forever homes
Foster: taking an animal into your home, allows the animal the time it needs to recover and socialize to be ready for its forever home. In addition, it frees up additional space at the rescue for them to be able to save more animals.
Adopt: Visit us in store or online and adopt your furever friend.
Just get involved any way you can to make a difference!
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: Kim Nunneley/Alexx Henry Studios, LLC.