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Subject(s): Lifestyle

lifestyle dog days search rescue paw works local organizations

This lifestyle issue focuses on two local non-profits who do great work here in Southern California.  Both were founded in 2014, yet they serve our communities (and the pets within them) in two diverse yet equally important ways.  We hope these stories and their noble work inspire you – as they do us – during this season of gratitude.  Happy Thanksgiving!


Founders:  JoAnn DeCollibus and Kelly Hill
Founded In:  Simi Valley, CA
(818) 427-7778 or (805) 551-9706

The co-founders of Dog Days Search & Rescue had been involved with canine search and rescue operations separately before joining forces to create this organization.  One of the key reasons for its founding was due to one of the co-founders (JoAnn DeCollibus), who had a neighbor who had lost her dog.  This neighbor was overwhelmed by the sudden disappearance of her beloved family pet.  JoAnn helped make posters and would not let her neighbor lose hope.  In the end, the dog was first found over 350 miles from their neighborhood and dropped off at a shelter in Palmdale, 60 miles from her home in Simi Valley.  At that point, JoAnn said, “I saw the need for networking, and to provide pet parents with the resources they needed to deal with the loss and recovery of their four-legged family members.  We help owners search for their pets, and give them an organized direction, as well as emotional support.”

When a pet goes missing, passions can run high, and a pet parent needs guidance to deal with the situation.  The Dog Days Search & Rescue website provides the pragmatic steps necessary to find a lost animal. They also offer an important list of ‘do’s and don’ts’ as well as advice on getting the word out – both locally and via social media – to help bring a pet home as soon as possible.

Two things JoAnn wants pet parents to do:  First, have your pet microchipped and registered.  JoAnn says, “pet parents should not assume just because a shelter or veterinary office implants a microchip, that their dog will be registered. Microchips are not GPS; they must be registered to work.  Many companies provide this service; Home Again is a good one to check out.” Secondly, she suggests you attach a tag with your dog’s name, your name, and phone number to your dog’s collar or have it embroidered directly on the collar itself. “We find so many dogs with a collar but no identification.  Providing the necessary information on a collar or tag goes a long way to getting a pet reunited with its family,” says JoAnn.

This non-profit is solely a volunteer organization dedicated to finding either lost or stray animals (primary dogs, but cats and other animals as well.)  These regional volunteers go out in teams and use cameras, cages, traps, and nets to retrieve lost pets and get them back safely to their owners. These teams work in Ventura and Los Angeles county.  They have recently started rescues in the state of Tennessee, in the areas between Nashville and Knoxville.

They need monetary donations to help pay for the live cameras and providing gas cards to their regional volunteers.  If you would like to help, please use the above information to get in touch.  They would be grateful for your interest and support!


Founders:  Chad Atkins and Christina Morgan
Founded In:  Thousand Oaks, CA
(805) 852-1744

From the onset, Paw Works chose to be (and remains) an ingenious and inspiring rescue organization.  In 2014, both founders were committed to getting Ventura County to a ‘no-kill’ zone here in California.  Many naysayers at the time thought it could not be done.  However, through their hard work and determination, they got percentages down so Ventura County could receive a ‘no-kill’ status – an extraordinary feat accomplished in their first thirty days!

Six years later, they have a staff of seventeen, numerous volunteers, and groundbreaking programs and services to aid both pets and people alike.  One of those people is Brittany Vizcarra, Operations Manager for Paw Works.  Back in 2015, Brittany suffered from social anxiety and began as a volunteer with Paw Works.  She related to and saw the evolution of how the rescue animals were first scared, then loved, and then witnessed the joy of finding them a good home. “Being part of these animals’ journey helped change me as a person,” says Brittany. “We are an innovative rescue group.  Essentially, we are looking for loving homes for our rescues.  We are working toward a ‘no-kill’ state and, eventually, a ‘no-kill’ nation.  In the meantime, we spread education, and we collaborate to work toward this goal.”

They currently pull from California shelters, which have high-kill rates, and from underfunded rural shelters.  They take in dogs who are both imperiled and adoptable.  Paw Works has created inclusive programs for at-risk youth and special needs volunteers who experience the love of dogs and, in turn, help these dogs get ready for adoption.

Their Child Pet Ambassador (CPA) program includes kids ranging from six to fourteen, teaching them about the value of rescuing animals and why spaying and neutering are important.  Paw Works also works with county clinics to provide spay and neuter services for financially challenged pet owners.

In January of 2021, Paw Works will be opening a rescue-run veterinary clinic in Thousand Oaks.  This clinic will provide pet adoption parents and the community with veterinary services based on tiers of affordability. They are also extending these resources to local rescue groups, offering reduced prices on medication and services.

Since March of this year, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, Paw Works has rescued over 1,500 dogs and cats.  They could use your financial assistance to continue the important work they are doing.  Please contact them through the information provided above to donate or become a volunteer.


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