Pets have been a part of families for generations and have been proven to bring joy and love to the home. One organization has been serving the Montclair area for over four decades giving dogs and cats an opportunity to find a forever home. PAWS Montclair is an all-volunteer animal rescue and shelter dedicated to rescuing dogs and cats and finding homes that are a great match for both the animal and the person or family adopting. We had the chance to connect with Eileen Mallor, who oversees general operations and fundraising for PAWS, to learn more about the work being done and how the community can get involved.
Across the country, more than 3.2 million pets are adopted annually. With an overwhelming majority of the country finding themselves spending more time at home, the thought of becoming a pet parent became a reality in 2020. Eileen shared that this increase in adoption rates held true at PAWS, “With people staying home more, interest in adopting has been high. So, in terms of adoptions, we’ve been very busy this past year and have had lots of success.” While 2020 was an unprecedented year for adoption rates, the team at PAWS has been serving the animals of the community for a long time.
Eileen was able to give us more insight into the history of the organization. “From 1977 through 2008, Pound Animal Welfare Society ran the animal shelter at North Willow Street in Montclair. In 2009 the township reclaimed the space to operate as a municipally run shelter.”
The lack of facility was not going to stop the organization from caring for dogs and cats in need. Eileen went on to share, “PAWS, considered more a sanctuary because of how long we cared for animals despite the cost, continued to operate as an independent non-profit, serving the community without a public facility. We cultivated foster homes as an interim shelter for our animals in addition to securing two private facilities to shelter several animals—one for cats and one for dogs.”
Read More: Animal Rescues in Northern New Jersey
PAWS has a mission to support animals who may not be considered for resources elsewhere for a variety of reasons including age, looks, breed, health condition, and more. “We pull animals from overcrowded shelters, the streets, and urgent death row situations by responding to pleas from rescue partners from other shelters,” Eileen added.
Many of the animals that arrive at PAWS need extra medical attention and longer stays—resources that are only made possible by the incredible volunteers, veterinarians, sanctuary, fosters, and kennel help.
In order to properly care for and place all of the animals that land at PAWS, the team of volunteers is fully committed to making sure that their talents and skills are utilized in the best capacity for the organization. Eileen told us more about the people who make up the core team in addition to the volunteers.
“Our president, Carole Michales, serves as director and leads the dog group. Val Slamka is a Vice-President and leads the cat group. Other officers include Gail Ingalls, a Vice-President and adoption counselor in the dog group, and Barbara Litwinka, a CPA who serves as Treasurer. Other board members include Steve Stefanski who focuses on operations for the cat group, and I focus on fundraising and general operations. Neil Davidson serves as our webmaster.”
How To Help
Volunteers at PAWS are truly the heart of the organization making the entire operation possible. Volunteers serve as foster “parents” to the cats and dogs waiting to be placed in forever homes, help organize and assist with adoption events, organize and support fundraising efforts, and provide care for kennel dogs and sanctuary cats. The strong work of the volunteers has earned PAWS numerous accolades from leading organizations like Great Nonprofits, GuideStar, and Charity Navigator.
Despite the success PAWS saw in terms of placing animals over the last year, the shelter has not been exempt from the financial burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eileen shared that major fundraising efforts have been canceled because of the inability to gather in large groups and, even with efforts to host events virtually, the financial gap has not been filled. Monetary donations remain a primary need.
Community members can get involved in many ways to support the work of PAWS. To support financially, become a PAWS member. Donation amounts start at five dollars. To be considered as a foster or to adopt an animal, visit the PAWS website here. To learn more about the ongoing work of PAWS, stay updated by signing-up for its newsletter here or visit the Facebook page and Twitter page.