James and his beloved dog Roscoe are indicative of the clients that the Portland Animal Welfare (PAW) team serve. A degenerative arthritic condition left James out of work and unhoused. But when his four-legged best friend Roscoe developed chronically infected ears and skin irritations, the PAW Team stepped in to provide the medication and prescription diet he needed – all free of charge. Their story has a happy ending; not only are Roscoe’s skin and ear conditions well managed, the two found housing through a local organization.
James and Roscoe’s experience illustrates PAW Team’s mission: saving lives, alleviating suffering and keeping pets and people together by providing free and low-cost veterinary care. “Anyone who has an animal knows the pain of watching that pet suffer,” says Nicole Perkins, the non-profit’s Executive Director of Development and Operations. “PAW Team offers our clients access to the services they need to keep their beloved pets healthy and happy.”
The Portland, Oregon, non-profit’s roots extend to the early 1990’s, long before it became an official organization in 2003. Then, a small, grassroots network of volunteer veterinarians set out to help a growing population of homeless pet owners who were unable to access veterinary care for their four-legged companions. In the following decades, the PAW Team has grown to provide more comprehensive services and support countless families in need.
“I think the PAW Team’s beginnings explain it all,” Perkins emphasizes. “People saw a need, they wanted to help and so they did.” Today, that legacy continues as the volunteer-powered nonprofit continues to provide vital veterinary services for more than 1,000 Portland-area families annually, aiding individuals living on the streets, in transitional shelters or government housing, as well as those faced with temporary financial hardship.
“Our tagline is that we ‘heal pets and the hearts of their people’ through veterinary care, and we see this reality every day,” Perkins says. “Our clients face many obstacles in their lives, but they still prioritize their pets needs above all else. Their pets are their family, and we help them keep them together, despite financial hardship.”