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Hometown Heroes: Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)

Jacob Stroman of PAWS in Louisiana is motivated, he says, by the great feeling of seeing "pets heal and go into a new and loving home"

"Hometown Heroes" highlights local shelters and grassroots rescue groups who help animals in need around the country

  • One rainy winter morning, shelter workers arrived to find this dog tied up outside the shelter in Belle Chasse, La. PAWS

  • They named the newcomer Lazarus, treated him for mange, and performed surgery on his eyes. PAWS 

  • Fully recovered and full of life, Lazarus heads to a loving home with Sydney, his new best friend. PAWS

  • Earlier this year, PAWS and The HSUS teamed up to bring 33 dogs from two Gulf Coast shelters to Maryland and Virginia for adoption. Right to left: Jacob Stroman, shelter director for PAWS; Sarah Barnett, emerging media manager for HSUS; James “Jim” Sowden, transport driver; and Julia Breaux Melancon, Louisiana state director for HSUS. PAWS

  • PAWS staff smile in satisfaction after successfully completing 18 adoptions within a few hours at their 2009 "PetFest." PAWS

  • Groundbreaking: Within the next fews months, PAWS will be moving into its new headquarters, which shelter director Jacob Stroman is billing as "the first fully green animal shelter in the South." PAWS

The hands-on work of local shelters and rescue groups, and the efforts of The HSUS, complement each other. Both are essential to building a strong animal welfare movement—and a society where humane treatment of all animals is valued.

For our second installment of our Hometown Heroes series, we checked in with Jacob Stroman, shelter director of the Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Belle Chasse, La.. PAWS is a private, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization located in Plaquemines Parish, on the West Bank of the Mississippi river. The community, which has a population of about 21,000, is part of the New Orleans Greater Metropolitan Area. PAWS, founded in 2003, relies upon donations from caring individuals, businesses, and friends, as well adoption fees and fundraisers.

All photos above provided by Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society. This series is reported by HSUS staffer Jim Baker, who writes for Animal Sheltering magazine.

HSUS: What’s your biggest challenge?

Jacob Stroman:
Our biggest challenge is accommodating each request of a pet to be relinquished into our adoption program. It hits you right in the gut when you have to turn someone away due to space constraints, knowing there’s a chance a perfectly adoptable pet may be euthanized elsewhere.

HSUS: What’s your greatest resource?

The Internet. Taking high-quality photos and posting them gets us much-needed traffic to our adoption facility. One of the greatest investments I’ve ever made is buying a good, rapid-fire camera. We all know how fast a dog can move from one split second to the next; you’ve got to have a camera that’s fast.

HSUS: Tell us about your most rewarding adoption or rescue story.

One rainy, winter morning, we found a dog in really bad shape tied up at our back door. We named him Lazarus, started treating him for mange, and performed surgery on both of his eyes, because his skin condition was so bad that his lids had flipped under. He stayed with us a few months, until that wonderful day that his new home came along.

HSUS: How does The HSUS affect your work?

The HSUS is one of our greatest resources. No matter what the problem is, our local HSUS representatives are happy to assist in problem solving or finding resources to help.

HSUS: What’s the hardest part of your job?

Seeing the results of animal neglect or abuse, or watching an animal come to the shelter because her owner has died … The part of the job that helps you lay your head on the pillow and sleep at night is watching these pets heal and go into a new and loving home.

VIDEO: Watch Jacob Stroman in Louisiana prepare for the Gulf Coast Dog Transport»

You can find Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) on Facebook here»

Did You Know?

The HSUS publishes a magazine for shelter professionals and volunteers, offering resources on shelter management and animal care. Learn more in Animal Sheltering magazine»

The Shelter Pet Project is a serious but light-hearted campaign that takes aim at pet overpopulation and highlights the positives of pet adoption. Learn more»

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