Paw’ll be home for Christmas

The holiday season is a time of giving and celebrating with loved ones. However, there is an organization in the Thousand Oaks Mall that wants to remind everyone that their animal friends need some help this season too.

Paw Works is a no-kill animal rescue organization co-founded by Christina Morgan and Chad Atkins with a mission to keep Ventura County animal shelters no-kill. The organization has only been active for 22 months, but they have managed to make Ventura County one of two counties in California that are no-kill. Paw Works hopes to get other counties in California to follow in their footsteps. This is a topic Morgan is incredibly passionate about.

“We are an open admission county shelter that’s no kill and that is ground-breaking. This means our Paw Works concept is unique and working,” Morgan said.

Morgan was a lawyer prior to Paw Works but started to get involved in animal rescue when she found out that the United States slaughters 200,000-500,000 horses each year. After becoming involved in the Humane Society of United States and their California counsel, she said she saw a shift in her interests.

“I started getting into all these things [and] I realized that this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to change Ventura County and I wanted to leave a legacy,” Morgan said.

It’s at a shelter that Morgan met Atkins and they decided to go into business for themselves. Atkins expertise and Morgan’s funding came together to create Paw Work as it is today.

Paw Works rescues animals and cares for them until they are adopted, but Morgan said they are striving for much more. Specifically, they go out into the community and educate owners on animal healthcare while caring to animals who need it.

“What’s important to me is eradication of diseases, spay and neuter, education and changing of cultural perceptions,” Morgan said.

Morgan and Atkins said that this is their passion project, but it is not easy. Paw Works relies on donations and volunteer support.

“Christina and I do not take a salary. We want to leave a legacy and make a difference. Animals are a passion of ours. We want to make rescue animals cool,” Atkins said.

Atkins said that since the organization is so young, many don’t know they even exist. He said this makes it difficult to cover medical expenses and some of the services they want to provide, such as their own spay and neuter mobile vet vans and education.

Atkins said because of this, Paw Works came up with the idea to plan events.

On Dec. 16 at 7 p.m., Paw Works is hosting a show at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza called “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”  The goal is to raise awareness for not only their organization but homeless animals everywhere through a variety show extravaganza. Atkins said guests are in for a night of fun, with the hope that it will motivate guests to support them.

One of the performing acts is the band 5AM. Nico Vescovi is the guitarist for the band and said that playing at a positive event is something they are excited about.

“It’s a hard job but someone has to do it, whether it’s taking care of animals or people. Organizations like Paw Works are taking the initiative and creating an environment that is positive. So it’s great to be able play a positive role, in a positive movement, playing positive music,” Vescovi said.

“We have a whole bunch of people that are coming to support us. We have found that it’s events like this that get a different crowd involved. It’s a great way to network,” Atkins said.

The event is hosted by Regan Burrs with a guest appearance from “Big Bang Theory” star Kaley Cuoco. Cuoco adopted her dog, Chester, from Paw Works recently and Morgan said she is helping to bring awareness to rescues.

“Kaley’s headlining the event because she adopted from us. Her dog was in foster care for eight months and was paralyzed. It’s a miracle he survived,” Morgan said.

Morgan and Atkins said that transparency is incredibly important to them, as it is the sad truth that many of these dogs have suffered.

“We are super transparent on our social media—we post the good, bad and the ugly. It’s not roses for some of these dogs, people need to know the truth. Some people will say ‘just don’t look’, but I am going to keep my eyes open because I want to make a difference,” Morgan said.

Morgan and Atkins said that community support of funding and time are so important. Everyone can do something, even California Lutheran University students.

“You can share a photo, foster, donate, volunteer and come buy your dog food—every little bit helps,” Morgan said.

For more information on the organization or events, visit Pawworks.org.

Mary Callaway
Senior Writer
Published December 9th, 2015