Chad Atkins is on a mission to help animals in need. His organization Paw Works is working tirelessly to help abandoned pets find their forever homes, and utilizing a wide variety of resources to accomplish their goals. One such initiative is their collaboration with Hallmark Channel; the two groups recently joined forces for a second Tails of Joy special following Paw Works’ efforts to assist St. Landry’s Parish Animal Shelter.
I connected with Chad to discuss the latest Tails of Joy effort and why animal rescue is meaningful to him, as well as the details that TV audiences might not know about this particular cause.
Brittany Frederick: How did you become involved with the cause of animal rescue? What’s the story behind Paw Works specifically?
Chad Atkins: I ran my own doggie daycare and boarding service. I started in San Francisco when I lived there, then I moved out to Ventura County, California. One of my clients was working with another nonprofit at the time in 2013, she asked me to help her out with some animals. I told her I would spend about five hours a week helping out. The first week I was there, I actually ended up spending 40 hours working with them. And that just kept going on and on and on.
My business actually began suffering from the amount of volunteer work I was doing. I told her that I couldn’t do it any longer, because I’m kind of an all or nothing kind of guy. That kind of spearheaded me to create Paw Works with my client at the time, Christina Morgan, who is the co-founder of our rescue; on January 17, 2014 we created Paw Works.
BF: What would you say makes Paw Works distinct from other animal rescue organizations?
CA: There’s several differences. I look at this as a business and unfortunately, that’s what it is. I would love to put myself out of business ultimately, but when you’re working with animals who are rescues, it’s very hard to separate the heart from the mind so a lot of decisions, a lot of the way business is handled, is from the heart. Which is not a bad thing, but the heart doesn’t pay the bills. So you have to be very smart. You have to be very outside the box. I think you have to know how to run a business in order to have a successful rescue and really make a difference.
I’m much more quantity over quality. And what I mean by that is I would rather save a thousand animals and give them the care they need and not go above and beyond. A lot of rescues will take one case and spend $10,000. Not that I won’t do that, and not that I haven’t done that, but I have to financially be in a position to do that. I have to be in a financial position to be able to take an animal on. I really believe at this point, quantity over quality is what we need.
And ultimately, I don’t believe at this point where we’re at in our society that we can save them all…Right now we have to be smart and we have to implement programs, such as [getting] spay and neuter laws into our legislation. We have to educate the next generation and we have to really focus on that education. That is [what] really is going to stop the overpopulation that’s occurring as we speak.
BF: What can we expect from the Tails of Joy: St. Landry’s Parish Animal Shelter special on Hallmark Channel?
CA: The second special covers a shelter in Louisiana called St. Landry’s Parish. A parish in Louisiana is basically like a county in California. This one shelter services seven different parishes, and the amount of animals that come into this one animal control center is exorbitant comparatively to other areas, and they really don’t have any kind of infrastructure. The people there are very low income, very poor, don’t believe in spaying and neutering; they believe in chaining their dogs outside. So sadly the shelter deals with a lot of abuse cases. Most of the animals there are heartworm-positive. What that means is that the parasite actually lives in the heart and the lungs of these animals. A dog can live normally for the most part with that, but ultimately it will diminish their lifespan.
The special follows a transport of about 200 dogs from St. Landry’s, and it’s a joint collaboration between Paw Works here in California, a rescue in Florida, a rescue in Tennessee, and about six rescues in Michigan. It follows our collaboration of saving almost 200 animals from this one shelter….In every area there’s a different need. At the end of the day, this problem exists everywhere, whether it’s in California or Louisiana; it’s just showing a different side of it.
BF: Animal adoption is a cause that Hallmark Channel has also heavily advocated for with their projects like Puppy Bowl and Kitten Bowl. What does it mean to you to have them as a partner?
CA: Having Hallmark Channel as a partner definitely opens a door to a demographic. The demographic for Hallmark Channel is a majority of females 18 to 49, and that’s typically the audience that we’re speaking to ourselves in animal rescue. It opens those blinders up because a lot of people believe that we don’t have an issue, or they don’t understand how big the issue is and how it really impacts them. You think okay, a dog goes into the animal shelter; how does that really affect me? Well, your taxpayer dollars pay for that. I could go on and on. But having that national platform to be able to put it out there to a larger audience really opens people’s eyes.
BF: What can people do to help solve this problem and help animals in need?
CA: I keep telling people that everybody can do something. A lot of times people feel helpless in this world, but everything you do – whether it’s sharing a post on social media, whether it’s commenting on a post, whether it’s donating a dollar, whether it’s going to your local shelter or whatever your passion is – we’re all interconnected. And that the only way that we can ultimately help this world, is to work together one step at a time.
For more on Paw Works, including how you can help, visit their website.