“I’ll do anything to save an animal.”
Those were the words of Remi, the founder of Paws 4 the Cause in Lexington, Kentucky. We’d just met up with him as a last minute addition to our shelter tour after that morning’s originally planned visit had canceled. It was sheer luck that we happened upon Paws 4 the Cause, or maybe my restlessness.
Twenty minutes before we were to leave for our scheduled stop that day, we got a message that the director we were to meet had a family emergency. Nancy settled in to edit pictures, and I surfed the internet. We had three hours to kill before we’d need to leave for our afternoon visit. On a whim, I pulled up google maps and searched for a nearby rescue. Maybe there was another place we were meant to be.
Paws 4 the Cause popped up, just ten minutes away in downtown Lexington. I scanned the website and was excited to see the work they were doing, so I sent off a quick text and connected with Anita, the Vice president and general manager of Paws 4 the Cause. She said she’d get in touch with Remi and see if he could meet us at the shelter. Thirty minutes later, we were in the car on our way.
Remi looks like a character from a novel, dressed in black, a black cowboy hat and pearl buttons, but he is possibly the most genuine person you could meet. His wide grin, warm voice, and gentle manner instantly put a person, and I imagine any animal, at ease.
We spoke with him for a few minutes in the parking lot of Paws 4 the Cause, which looks like any other industrial building on the street, except for the police car out front. I asked if he was an Animal Control officer and he laughed and told me, a police officer friend convinced him to buy the retired car for his own safety. Remi could use the lights when he stopped on the side of the road to rescue animals—something he does on a regular basis. True to his words, “I’ll do anything to save an animal.” Even drive a faded, worn out police car.
Paws 4 the Cause started in 2008. Remi funded it himself until he ran out of savings, but now they are a 501c3 and in addition to saving animals, they spend a lot of their time fundraising. They depend on Facebook and their weekend bingo games, plus some local people who often step up to help when they need them. Their medical bills average between three and four thousand dollars a month.
The rescue pulls the hardest of luck cases from the hollows and small towns up and down the I-75 corridor from Cincinnati down to the Tennessee border. “We get dogs that have been shot, stabbed, runover, and dogs who have lost their eyes or limbs due to some misfortune, and dogs with diseases.”
P4tC is a foster-based rescue, but their building doubles as a temporary shelter and vet clinic. They are in the midst of renovating it so it can be a full-time spay/neuter clinic and have additional kennel space. “If you’re serious about rescue, then you’ve got to have a plan for spay/neuter,” Remi told me. They hope to have their clinic up and running in the next year and will perform surgeries six days a week.
Inside the shelter, we met Kathryn the vet tech and her dog, Buster, a Paws 4 the Cause rescue. Kathryn was busy caring for the animals at the shelter that need medical care; she would be there until lunchtime when fosters would arrive to pick up their charges. When the clinic is up and running, she’ll be at the shelter full-time assisting the vets and caring for the animals.
The rescue adopts animals out directly and transfers many to rescues. If they get a call for a dog or cat and don’t have room, they’ll still network the dog and find it a safe place to go with other rescues or shelters. There were only a handful of dogs at the shelter on the morning of our visit, but that’s normal because they try to evaluate the dogs, get their vet work done, and move them into foster homes as quickly as possible. As Kathryn put it, “We don’t want to rescue them from a shelter situation just to put them back in one.”
Paws 4 the Cause also helps cats, working with local groups to do TNR (Trap-neuter-release). The clinic will have a dedicated TNR surgery day.
Remi’s dream is that the building will not only be a low-cost spay/neuter clinic and shelter base for the rescue, but also a community center where people of all ages can come to help the animals and experience the love and value that animals have to offer.
Paws 4 the Cause is doing incredible work—making miracles happen for so many animals that would perish without them. Follow them on Facebook to see it for yourself and support them if you can. Lexington is lucky to have Remi, Anita, Kathryn, and so many other animal-hearted people in their corner.
They are another example of people stepping into the gap to rescue animals in an area where the state and county are failing to.
Until each one has a home,
The mission of Who Will Let the Dogs Out (we call it Waldo for short) is to raise awareness and resources for homeless dogs and the heroes who fight for them.
You can learn more about what is happening in our southern shelters and rescues in the book, One Hundred Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues (Pegasus Books, 2020) which tells the story of a challenging foster dog who inspired me to travel south and discover where all the dogs were coming from when Who Will Let the Dogs Out was born. Find it anywhere books are sold. A portion of the proceeds of every book sold go to help unwanted animals in the south.
Amber’s Halfway Homeis a short documentary film we produced in partnership with Farnival Films. It tells the story of a remarkable woman and one day of rescue in western Tennessee. Selected for ten film festivals (to date), it is a beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring story we hope will compel viewers to work for change.