Spring 2011 Magazine


By Nancy Marano

Lucky Paws was a "first" when it opened its doors in February 2007. It was the first municipally-owned pet adoption store in the nation. Located in Coronado Mall, Lucky Paws had a ready-made clientele going through the mall buying clothes or taking their daily exercise. Many of these people came home with a furry friend instead.

The cheerful décor and friendly atmosphere encountered at Lucky Paws drew people in and sent thousands of animals to new forever homes. It looked like an upscale pet store but it wasn't. The animals at Lucky Paws were down-on-their-luck strays or animals surrendered by their owners to the Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department. Instead of being at the main shelters, these animals were brought to Lucky Paws to give them a better chance of finding a home. And find homes they did. Originally, this was part of the City's program to make Albuquerque a "live exit" city.

Then potential disaster struck Lucky Paws in the form of a bad national economy, which filtered down to the local level. The 2011 City budget needed to be cut because of lower tax revenue. This came at the same time the Eastside shelter was being renovated and two new veterinarians were hired to help with the expanded spay-neuter clinic. Something needed to be cut from the Animal Welfare budget and that something was Lucky Paws. The City planned to close the doors on Lucky Paws by summer's end in 2010.

Perhaps the "Lucky" in Lucky Paws refers to more than just the luck of the animals who get to come here. As a good corporate citizen, Coronado Mall stepped up to help the animals and keep the facility open. They generously reduced the Lucky Paws rent. Albuquerque citizens sent numerous letters to the newspaper pleading with the City to keep Lucky Paws open and relating heartwarming stories of adopting animals from there. Another citizen group, that didn't want to see Lucky Paws close, proactively started a nonprofit called "Save Lucky Paws." Their sole mission is to raise money to pay Lucky Paw's rent.

According to Martha Anderson, President of Save Lucky Paws, there are four board members who are quite active in the organization. They man a table at Lucky Paws on the weekend where they sell T-shirts and wristbands to earn rent money. They want to expand their fundraising efforts to events such as a carnival and a silent auction party. To accomplish these goals, they need more volunteer help for special events. They also need volunteers who can commit time on the weekends to talk with people and explain why it is necessary to raise money for Lucky Paws.

If you adopted one or more animals from Lucky Paws and have some time to give back in appreciation of what that animal gives to you, please consider volunteering your time and fundraising skills to help keep Lucky Paws alive.

What Save Lucky Paws has accomplished since September 2010 is amazing. This small group of people couldn't bear to see such a vital, necessary place close without a fight to save it. So far they have managed to pay the rent every month and animals continue to be adopted into new homes through their efforts.

"When we were first handing out flyers at Lucky Paws and explaining the situation to people, many expressed dismay that the 'shop' might close. These were people who had adopted two or three animals here. I got cards where people talked about the animals they adopted and some donations, too," said Anderson.

One card said: "The people at Lucky Paws saw my beautiful eyes and kept me safe while person after person saw my fearful, huddled body and passed me by. One day someone else saw my beautiful eyes and I went home with my new Mom and Dad.Now I go lots of places and meet lots of new people and dogs. I make new friends easily now. I helped my Mom get well when she was sick for a long time. I helped raise four foster puppies and two foster kittens. Thanks, Lucky Paws! Life is good. Emma (formerly Sassy adopted June 7, 2008.)"

"I've spent many hours at Lucky Paws, watching as well as talking with people. It is an outstanding venue for animals, but also for people," Anderson said. "Many come just to see the animals because they can't have pets where they live. Many parents bring their very small children to introduce them to dogs and cats. I think it is also an outstanding way for the City to show it cares about animals, since Lucky Paws finds homes for so many disabled pets such as Vickie. She was a seven-year-old cattle dog who was found with her litter. She'd lost one of her eyes. The puppies were easily placed but Vickie was passed by at the regular shelter. It took a few weeks after she came to Lucky Paws, but the right person found her. An older man who enjoyed walking as much as Vickie did adopted her."

Most of the money Save Lucky Paws has raised comes from straight cash donations whether it's 68 cents or $500.00. All is welcomed, needed and used.

"I believe the people of Albuquerque really do want Lucky Paws to stay open. They just need the opportunity to show it and that's what we do," Anderson said.

Michelle King, Manager of Lucky Paws, said, "Basically our goal is to save the world, one animal at a time. These are amazing animals."

Save Lucky Paws is doing its part to make that goal a reality. If you want to keep the lights on and the doors open, you can donate to Save Lucky Paws by credit card at their website: www.saveluckypaws.org. If you would rather donate by check, send the money to:

Save Lucky Paws
PO Box 53301
Albuquerque NM 87153

or at:
Save Lucky Paws
Bank of Albuquerque
PO Box 26148
Albuquerque, NM 87125-7841
attn: Wanda, Uptown or drop it in one of their night boxes.

Nancy Marano is an award-winning writer who is owned by a cat named Sammy. She is a member of the Cat Writers' Association and Dog Writers of America. Currently she is waiting to see who the new cat or cats in her life will be.

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