‘Philly Loves PAWS’ Citywide Fundraiser Sure to be a Treat

The Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, (PAWS), will host its 8th annual Philly Loves PAWS citywide fundraiser on Wednesday, May 15.

The event features more than 50 Philadelphia-based restaurants, shops, and businesses that will come together to help PAWS further their mission of saving and protecting pets in need.

PAWS is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving Philadelphia’s homeless at at-risk pets. “As the city’s largest rescue partner and provider of affordable veterinary care, PAWS saves and finds loving homes for thousands of homeless animals each year, and enables thousands more families to care for and keep their cherished pets,” as the website reveals. “PAWS is working to make Philadelphia a no-kill city where every savable pet is guaranteed a home.”

PAWS Executive Director, Melissa Levy, gave insight into the event and its impact on the organization.

“We are delighted to partner with numerous outstanding local businesses for what is sure to be another successful Philly Loves PAWS Day! It is a collaborative effort that not only celebrates Philadelphia’s entrepreneurial spirit but also underscores the importance of community support,” she said.

“This event gives us a chance to highlight the remarkable businesses that call our city home, as it nurtures meaningful connections between patrons and the vulnerable pets who depend on us for assistance,” Levy added.

“Proceeds from Philly Loves PAWS play an instrumental role in advancing our mission to find loving homes for animals in need and enable families to keep their cherished pets,” she said. “We are privileged to stand alongside our neighbors as we address Philadelphia’s urgent animal welfare needs.”

Sponsored by VCA Cat Hospital of Philadelphia and Tito’s Vodka, businesses participating in the event will donate at least 10% of their sales in return for advertising and sharing their products in combination with supporting a great cause. 

The businesses set to attend span from restaurants — including cafes and coffee shops — to gyms and yoga studios, retail stores, tattoo parlors, and so many more small businesses that reside in the City of Brotherly Love.

Since its first fundraiser dating back to 2016, Philly Loves PAWS has accumulated almost $125,000 in support of pets across the city. This year, PAWS hopes to continue the same success. 

Gucci Girl, a dog available for adoption at PAWS

Cory Topel, the communications and grants manager at PAWS described the “two-fold,” mutually beneficial effect that the Philly Loves PAWS fundraiser has on PAWS’ mission as well as the involved businesses. 

“It’s not just about raising funds for PAWS and our mission. We love being in Philadelphia, we are Philadelphians at heart, and what is great is that this is also an opportunity to shine a light on so many of the local businesses throughout the greater Philadelphia region who are also animal lovers,” she said.

“We get to encourage folks to go out and support their favorite local Philadelphia businesses, while also helping to support PAWS fulfill the mission — so it’s a win-win.” 

Topel, who joined PAWS only four months ago, is very passionate about pets and has been supporting PAWS since 2017.

A self-proclaimed, “lifelong cat lover,” Topel adopted her cat, Gustave, through PAWS and spent time volunteering with the group. In tandem with her background in marketing and animal welfare, her early connection to the organization inspired her subsequent on-boarding years down the line. 

“As a lifelong animal lover, I’ve always believed in helping the underdog — and the underdog, in this case, is the cats and dogs and small animals of Philadelphia,” she remarked. “PAWS works so hard to give these animals a fighting chance at the life they deserve and that’s something worth celebrating and it’s something that I’m just very grateful I get to spend my days working towards.”

PAWS Supporters Hang Out With Kittens

Topel spoke about what PAWS’ mission means to her. “I’m proud to be a part of the community here in Philadelphia — in particular the community that PAWS has created,” she said. “It’s just a great network of wonderful, doting passionate people who work hard to improve the lives of animals, and for me, it doesn’t get better than that.”

Topel testified to what PAWS strives to accomplish and how the event and its supporters are a major component of how the organization can thrive.

“We are just so eternally grateful,” she said. “As a non-profit animal welfare organization, we are only able to do our work through the support of our community, and we are so proud to be here in Philadelphia. We love the people in this city. We love the people in our community who tirelessly step forward every day to help support us. We truly could not do this work without the support of this wonderful community,” she continued.

PAWS’ mission is to serve the needy pets of Philadelphia in any way possible. Not only does PAWS set out to find homes for loving animals, but the group works hard to help families care for and keep their pets. 

“Pet adoption is just one piece of the pie,” Topel said. “We work hard to make sure we provide services like affordable vet care, low-cost spay neuter, vaccines [and] general wellness checks. We also provide free pet food, and cat litter — through a pet food pantry — we provide temporary housing for folks experiencing a transition in their life if they need a place for their pets to go through our safety net program, and we are just here to be a resource for pet owners,” she said. “It’s really rewarding work, for me.”

Topel also mentioned how fostering at PAWS is specifically important — especially around this time of the year. 

“The need for affordable vet care and secure housing for pets vastly outweighs how many pets are out there right now just waiting for someone to give them a chance, and it’s a big problem, she shared. “Just about anywhere you go in Philadelphia you see stray cats running around,” she added.

“We’re now in kitten season, which is the time of year that cats breed. It usually begins in late spring — April or May and runs through October and that is when the city shelter is just bombarded with a plethora of pregnant cats or newborn kittens,” Topel said. “And the first eight weeks of their lives — they’re so vulnerable — and unless they have that care their chances of survival are slim.” 

PAWS cares for a Kitten

Topel continued on the crucial need for fostering and how it impacts PAWS. “Fostering is a vital piece of our life-saving work,” Topel shared. “Fostering provides temporary housing for animals who are currently undergoing medical treatment or who are waiting to get old enough to be ready for adoption. So, while PAWS has three locations throughout the city of Philadelphia, we are limited in terms of kennel space. So, each time a pet goes into a foster home, with an animal lover in the community, we’re then able to make space for another animal who’s potentially at risk of losing their life

Topel shared every piece of the process of planning the event, which entails advertising, making promotional materials, contacting businesses, and spreading the word. She ultimately described the work as “rewarding,” and relayed her excitement for the upcoming Philly Loves PAWS fundraiser.  “It’s just a great, energy-filled day…a lot of these local businesses you know shop owners will bring their animals or you know come out for the day,” she said.

“There are pet shops that have resident pets, like cats and dogs, different bars will bring their dogs out which is extremely fun and some of the businesses are also pet friendly,” Topel added. “You just feel the energy and you feel that sense of community which is  wonderful — so it’s just a great reminder of how community is so important and the energy is always infectious on Philly Loves PAWS Day — so I think just getting out being within the community and spending time with fellow animal lovers is what I’m most excited about.”

Topel urges readers to get involved with the organization through volunteering, adoption, fostering, or even sponsoring and donating. All information can be found on PAWS’ website, linked below, and we hope to see you at Philly Loves PAWS Day. 

“By coming out and supporting an organization like PAWS on Philly Loves PAWS Day, you’re helping save animals and you’re helping to support the local business across your city,” said Topel.

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