The life of a rescue dog can be unfortunate. And waiting for a “furever” home can sometimes take years. But that doesn’t mean time spent in an animal shelter should be rough.
For the canines that end up at Paws Place Dog Rescue in Winnabow, it’s just the start to their ideal “dog’s life.”
“They’re already rescued at Paws Place,” says board president Catherine Helgesen.
A no-kill, non-profit shelter, Paws Place has been rescuing, rehabilitating, and placing dogs into loving homes since 1999. Entirely run on donations, volunteers, and a love for man’s best friend, the shelter works to save dogs and make them “healthy and happy,” Helgesen says.
Paws Place was originally located on five acres of the founder’s property on Boiling Springs Road in Brunswick County. The original facility only had outdoor kennels, unfortunately exposing the dogs to the cold winters and hot summers even with the igloo houses and blankets in each kennel. There was also a barn for storing dog food, medicine, blankets and housing the office, but no permanent restroom facility for staff and volunteers.
“Over the years it came into disrepair because it was getting a lot of use,” Helgesen explains. It was a good problem to have, but one that compelled the board to consider whether it was feasible to build new rather than repair the old facility.
“We really wanted to get the dogs out of the elements,” Helgesen says.
Also, being licensed by the Department of Agriculture (unlike most foster-based kennels), Paws Place was beginning to find it difficult to meet the guidelines for maintaining the facility’s condition and the dogs’ paperwork.
After several years of planning and fundraising, Paws Place opened their new kennel last May with more room and proper facilities. The dogs, and humans, couldn’t be happier.
Situated on 18 acres on Route 87, the cinderblock facility has an attractive exterior and boasts a 3,500 square-foot kennel building and a 2,400 square-foot office building. The pooches enjoy the best of both worlds in 26 indoor kennels that are heated and air-conditioned and each is connected to outdoor kennels by a doggie door, which is closed at night for the dogs’ security.
Each dog has it’s own bed outside and a Kuranda orthopedic bed inside, which were donated during a Giving Tuesday event last November. The new location also has a big, fenced-in play yard with plenty of room for dogs to romp and volunteers to teach tricks and manners to the four-legged friends.
Helgesen notes several benefits to the new building and location, including increased foot traffic. “But number one is that the dogs are much more comfortable and much happier,” she says.
The “people side” of the building, Helgesen explains, includes a lobby and reception desk, an office for their vet care coordinator, an adoption room, a restroom with a shower, and several storage rooms for linens and washers and dryers. And a grooming and wash station ensures that each dog looks and feels its best. “Our dogs are always clean and extremely well cared for,” Helgesen says.
Most of the dogs at Paws Place come from unfortunate situations or are pulled from shelters in Brunswick, Pender, New Hanover, and surrounding counties. When a dog is rescued, it’s placed in one of five outdoor quarantine kennels prior to its first vet visit. Every dog is fully vetted and examined before being available for adoption. “They are spayed or neutered, given all age appropriate vaccinations, started on heartworm preventative, microchipped, and showered with love and affection,” the Paws Place website states.
With a seven-step adoption process, Paws Place ensures that each dog is placed into the right family and that both are a good fit. Potential owners are required to meet the dog they are interested in as part of the process, either in the facility’s adoption room or at one of the Meet Greets held twice a month in the surrounding area.
However, none of it could be done without the numerous, dedicated volunteers who do a variety of daily tasks – from feeding and walking dogs to washing food bowls and linens – in order to keep Paws Place running smoothly.
“That’s what’s exciting, to see all the support and enthusiasm and energy and passion that we all put into saving these dogs,” Helgesen says.
Ultimately, it comes down to saving dogs, one at a time. “The most fulfilling thing,” Helgesen says, “is the joy I see of these dogs that are saved from unfortunate situations and are given an opportunity to have a wonderful life.”
Paws Place is located at 242 George II Highway. For more information and hours of operation, visit www.pawsplace.org.