CO•PAW was founded in response to an overwhelming community need for accessible preventative medicine for animals, as well as education for families who have the best interests of their companions at heart. It is our mission to provide affordable sterilization, vaccines, and behavioral and nutritional counseling to all members of our community, regardless of their financial status. Additionally, CO•PAW operates a foster and adoption program, and is developing a cat café with behaviorally appropriate housing for adoptable felines, with the goal of finding permanent, loving homes for as many in-need animals as possible.
CO•PAW was developed by our directors once we found we shared the same core belief—that all pets are deserving of high-quality veterinary care, regardless of the financial status of their owners, and even regardless of if the animal currently has an owner.
This is a task easier said than done.
We knew that we would be facing an uphill battle, but we also knew that the impact we could make would be worth the immense struggle. How would we get ahead of the global pet overpopulation concern? How would we help the millions of pets that die each year, stemming from overpopulation and under-vaccination? But for the millions that are humanely euthanized each year, there are millions more that face a fate worse than death: suffering. And oftentimes, this suffering is inadvertently by people who simply mean well. How would we help these animals?
We sat down and pondered these problems for a long time. And we are exceptionally proud to announce that we have found solutions for these pressing issues.
Outreach: CO•PAW is designed to provide affordable veterinary services to under-served communities and rescue groups. It is incredibly easy to acquire a pet, but exceptionally difficult to adequately care for one. You can travel to any community across the globe and you will find pets. But what you will not always find is adequate or accessible veterinary care. To us, accessible means accessible to all. Many impoverished areas lack proper resources to care for their residents, both human and animal alike. Those that do have veterinary resources are often faced with the issue of the veterinary facility being priced out of the reach of the local residents. This gets a staggering number of pet owners into the habit of not seeking veterinary care, even in emergencies. For CO•PAW, "adequate" means comprehensive, high quality and complete. The few veterinary resources that are available to poverty-stricken communities often see incredibly high volumes of patients, oftentimes treating the patients as a herd and using outdated, generic protocols without the supporting diagnostics or proven efficacy. Many clinics geared towards low-income clients frequently lack the capability to perform diagnostics.
We brainstormed, and we decided that you could plunk down a bunch of clinics with more accessible price points, but this still wouldn’t solve the problem because many people have already been inadvertently taught to avoid regular veterinary care for their pets. So, what’s next?
Education: CO•PAW will provide education for pet owners, in the form of appointments, literature, videos, and seminars. Even without extensive finances, financially constrained pet owners can be taught to make decisions in the best interest of their pet in order to keep them happy and healthy. This isn’t a pitch for upselling people on elective services, but instead, teaching them why they need to get their puppy vaccinated. And why they should take precautions before letting their cats outside. Why they shouldn’t declaw, and what the repercussions can be for their cats. Why they shouldn’t let their dog eat bones, and even why their dog digs in their crate when its owners aren’t home.
Great. So we’ve come up with a great plan to help pets living in under-served communities. But what about the millions of homeless pets?
Rescue: CO•PAW will open a Cat Café that operates as a free-roaming cattery and adoption center, in addition to providing a foster-based rescue program for animals that cannot be housed at the café. We believe in behavioral well-being for all animals and vow to abide by the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare. They are: Freedom from Hunger & Thirst, Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease; Freedom From Discomfort; Freedom to Express Normal Behavior; and, Freedom from Fear and Distress. We’ve all seen the posts on social media of the dog that needs immediate rescue within 48 hours, or the cat that is completely shut down in its cage. All animals experience the feelings of fear, anxiety, and stress, but they do not know how to communicate their feelings to us. These feelings can manifest as aggression, avoidance, and listlessness. There is still hope for these animals, but most animal shelters do not have the capacity to devote individual care for them. CO•PAW will provide behaviorally considerate housing for all its residents. We will avoid using cages, unless medically necessary or required for safety. There will be a limit on how many animals can inhabit a free-roaming space, based on the recommended square footage per animal by the leading veterinary experts. Right now, these recommendations are 20-30 square feet per cat, and 60-120 square feet per dog—most free-roaming shelters fall far short of this recommendation, and it shows in the mental well-being of their residents.
But we also want to cultivate a healthy work environment—because if we can pass this positivity on to our staff, surely, they will pass it on to the animals that need us most. To support this goal, CO•PAW will empower marginalized groups, including individuals with disabilities and abandoned or at-risk youths through employment opportunities and specialized training. Because together, we can make the world a better place for everyone.
Our plans do not stop here. Once we are able to establish ourselves in the community, we will develop a mobile unit that will deliver our services to those who are unable to come to us—whether it is locally, nationally, or globally.