National Pet Day: Interview with an expert

April 10, 2019
5 min read

Katie McCourt

Digital Content Specialist

Couple celebrating national pet day with dog

Did you know that National Pet Day is on April 11th? National Pet Day celebrates the joy that pets bring to our lives, and creates public awareness of animals in the shelter system that need a home.

In light of National Pet Day, we spoke to Kathy Powelson from Paws for Hope, about her thoughts on the most important issues in animal welfare today.

This is what we learnt:

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and what you do?

I am the founder and executive director of Paws for Hope. I have worked in the social services sector for over 25 years, and I bring my experience working in community to the work I do at Paws for Hope.

What is the Paws for Hope? What is its main mission?

We are a BC animal welfare charity that provides care for pets in need, education for the community and support for the animal welfare sector. Our mission is:

To lead a new generation of companion animal care and protection, mobilizing our province to target the underlying causes of harm and abandonment, and create sustainable solutions that protect the pets who need us most.

What do you see as the most important issue in animal welfare today? How would you address it?

Without a doubt, the most significant animal welfare issue today is access, or lack of, to veterinary care. We are working really hard to expand our access to veterinary care programs through increasing the number of free clinics we do each year, and expanding those clinics across the province. We work with our donors, corporate sponsors and animal welfare partners to increase our veterinary care fund, and to increase our philanthropic veterinary partnerships.

How does Paws for Hope help people, by helping their pets?

Pets are members of our family. When we have a family member who is in need of help, and we can’t provide the help they need, it creates a lot of stress and anxiety. Also, we may sacrifice our own needs to ensure that they get the help they need. It’s no different when that family member is a pet! We have seen many cases where people have sacrificed food and other basic necessities to try and get their pet the veterinary care needed. We also know that sometimes people feel that their only option is to surrender their pet in order for them to get the care they need.

Our help is intended to keep families together, and to keep pets out of the shelter system.

What are the top things you wish that everyone knew about animal welfare?

Pets are a lifetime commitment. Pets sold online and in pet stores are bred in misery.

Also, access to veterinary care is the number one animal welfare issue in our country, and we cannot help pets if we are not helping their people as well.

What advice would you give to someone who was interested in animal welfare, and wanted to have a positive impact on the cause?

Become a conscious consumer! Buy products that haven’t been tested on animals. If you eat meat, buy meat that has been humanely raised. If you are looking for a pet to bring into your home, make sure they are coming from a responsible shelter, rescue or breeder.

Finally, find an organization whose mission you stand behind and become a volunteer or donor (even just $5 a month makes a difference!).

From your time with Paws for Hope, do you have any memorable stories?

There are so many stories about the animals and their people that we have helped. A recent one, and a great example of how people will rally together for an animal in need, is the story of Chance. Chance was just a 10 week old puppy when he was accidentally run over by a family member. They didn’t want to pay for the surgery to fix his broken pelvis, tibia, fivia and humerus, and told the clinic to euthanize him. Thankfully the clinic reach out to our sister rescue, R and R Ranch, and we took him in and paid for the surgery. In less than a week we raised over $3,000 to cover his surgery. This puppy will now have a wonderful life, thanks to all the people who valued him and donated!

Are there any other charities you donate to, or other causes you support? If so, why?

I donate to the Federation of Community Social Services of BC. They do such important work advocating for the social services sector. I also donate to HugABull Advocacy and Rescue Society, because they do important rescue and advocacy work on behalf of pitbull type dogs, the most misunderstood breed.


Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us, Kathy!

If you’d like to give to an animal welfare charity to celebrate National Pet Day, then there are a number of great charities on Charitable Impact to choose from. You can create a free Imapct Account today, to start giving to the charities you care about and create an impact.

Do you have a story to share? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Send us an email: [email protected]