On Monday we had a staff meeting at NEW PAWSibilities. It was good to see co-workers I had not seen for over two months though we’ve all been doing our part to keep our dogs healthy and happy and to facilitate adoptions in this new way.
 
When I got the text about the meeting I was filled with dread. I know it’s been a financial nightmare trying to pay bills and keep things going in the midst of COVID-19 and so I fully expected to walk in and learn that we were closing our doors for good.
 
To cushion what I knew would be a horrible blow to us all I baked a pie. I know, not much, but at least it was something. Everything is better with homemade coconut cream pie.
 
We sat in a circle sharing pleasantries and stories with each other and our key volunteer and board members. People were nervous, or at least I was.
 
So there we sat waiting for the shoe to drop. Over the last two months, I’ve seen Jim struggle with the decision to remain open. This meeting clarified why things are only going to get worse before they get better.
 
But first the good news. We’re staying open! Jim is such a gracious boss that he called us in so that we could all talk through what it will take to remain open.
 
When NEW PAWSibilities opened eight years ago it was a different business model. The idea was to welcome adopters daily so that people could actually come in and adopt during times that were good for them. Most shelters are open for significantly shorter hours only a few days a week. In fact, the only reason my husband and I chose to go to NEW PAWS first to find a dog is that they were opened and no one else was.
 
The next part of our model that’s different than many rescues is that we have daycare, boarding, and grooming and those provide an income stream to help fund dog rescue. Let’s face it; rescuing dogs is not a money maker. In fact, some dogs come to us with physical or psychological issues and we work with them for extra weeks and sometimes months getting them ready for their new home. The vet, surgery, and transport costs are increasingly high leaving little to pay for rent, salaries, utilities, etc.
 
When we chose our dog I had done zero homework about rescuing a dog. I naively believed there was no cost or maybe a donation to adopt. I think there are many people who believe that groups of people with buckets of money are rescuing and paying all the costs associated with saving each dog’s life. Trust me, there are not buckets of money and no army or volunteer vets working for free.
 
COVID-19 and the over two-month safer-at-home order has changed everything about how we operate. What you see are fewer dogs coming in with less frequency. Instead of being able to walk in and see as many dogs as you want, now whenever we are open it’s been a first-come-first-visit and only on selected days and hours. That’s been difficult for all of us and we don’t know if and when that will change. The need to flatten the curve and save lives resulted in all sorts of changes especially for rescues. Hopefully, as things relax, more vets will be able to see dogs and perform spay/neuter surgery and we will once again be able to transport dogs as we have in the past.
 
While not having as many dogs available has been hard on people choosing to adopt that has not been the hardest financial part of this pandemic for NEW PAWSibilities. What most of you don’t know is that the daycare/boarding/grooming model is what allowed us to operate and rescue over 11,000 dogs. That is what has paid a significant portion of our rent and other expenses. With people not working or traveling and with groomers only recently being allowed to work our income stream has dried up. We never imagined a time when our building would be just about empty.
 
We know that NEW PAWSibilities is a vital part of our community and that we have not only rescued dogs but changed lives. As a group we all agreed that there really is no other option but to work as hard as we can to find new and unique ways to bring in revenue so that we can keep being the best dog rescue group in Northeast Wisconsin and beyond.
 
We always believe transparency is the best policy and now is no different. How can you help? Our daycare, boarding, and grooming are open! We also have beds and bowls and collars and leashes and all of those sales help.
 
If you do decide to use daycare for your dogs or you know someone else looking we would love for you to consider us. We know travel has changed, trips have been canceled, people are afraid. But if you do travel and want a safe and loving space for your dog for a day or a week or even beyond for those longer trips we are a perfect choice. We have boarded Coconut several times while traveling and while we know he misses us he loves the staff and volunteers at NEW PAWS and I know he is safe and secure.
 
For those who used to use our daycare and boarding who don’t need us right now maybe you’d like to donate to help us replace that funding. We are not going to have a fundraiser at this time but if you are able to give we would very much appreciate it.
 
If you do decide to use daycare for your dogs or you know someone else looking we would love for you to consider us. We know travel has changed, trips have been canceled, people are afraid. But if you do travel and want a safe and loving space for your dog for a day or a week or even beyond for those longer trips feel free to give us a call. We have boarded Coconut several times while traveling and while we know he misses us he loves the staff and volunteers at NEW PAWS and I know he is safe and secure.
 
For those who used to use our daycare and boarding who don’t need us right now maybe you’d like to donate to help us replace that funding. We are not going to have a fundraiser at this time but if you are able to give we would very much appreciate it.
 
We will not have any dogs available this week but we are crossing our fingers for next week. If you are considering a dog please apply as soon as possible so that there is not a mad rush. We can tell you will continue holding meet-and-greet and adoptions on selected pre-announced days so watch for the announcements on our site and on Facebook. When you do adopt you have the option of adding a donation and every dollar is stretched as far as possible and much appreciated.
 
We’ll be posting more about how you can help and we are so happy to have all of you with us as we continue this journey.
 
What we thought was going to be a sad Monday meeting turned into a time of laughter and stories and people sharing how much it means to be part of such an outstanding organization. And there was pie.
If you do decide to use daycare for your dogs or you know someone else looking we would love for you to consider us. We know travel has changed, trips have been canceled, people are afraid. But if you do travel and want a safe and loving space for your dog for a day or a week or even beyond for those longer trips feel free to give us a call. We have boarded Coconut several times while traveling and while we know he misses us he loves the staff and volunteers at NEW PAWS and I know he is safe and secure.