Nonprofit Spotlight: Precious Paws ‘rescuing pets four paws at a time’ | Local News
Precious Paws Rescue in Lecanto is an animal rescue specializing in cat rescue. This shy feline rests in an elevated platform inside what is shaped as the head of a cat. The animals are cared for daily by a dedicated staff and volunteers.
Every paw is precious to the volunteers at Precious Paws Rescue Inc.
Open seven days a week in a storefront in Lecanto, the cats in the care of the nonprofit organization roam in their own enclosed play area that would be any rescue cat’s dream, with places to climb as well as places to hide and take a nap.
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Pat O’Brien is a founder of Precious Paws Rescue Inc.
“We don’t want to warehouse them,” said Pat O’Brien, one of Precious Paws co-founders.
The only time a cat is in a cage is if it’s recovering from surgery.
O’Brien said that keeping the cats socialized with each other as well as with humans is an important part of what they do as they seek homes for these cats.
They also rescue dogs, but cats are in the majority.
“Finding the best home for each rescued pet is our goal,” it reads on their handout card. “(Our) primary purpose is to reduce pet overpopulation and to relieve the suffering of animals by rescuing, fostering and rehoming unwanted or abandoned pets.”
They also inform and educate the public about basic pet care and the importance of having animals spayed/neutered to control pet overpopulation.
Precious Paws began in 2009 with a small group of volunteers who had worked at other local animal rescue organizations.
“We felt we wanted to do things a little differently,” O’Brien said.
With the motto “Rescuing pets four paws at a time,” last year, Precious Paws adopted 223 cats and 12 dogs.
Precious Paws volunteer Michelle Breeden cleans a litter box at the Precious Paws storefront Friday, March 24. The nonprofit cares for a variety of animals but cats are a primary rescue.
So far this year they’ve found homes for 50 cats and five dogs.
Currently, they have three pregnant cat moms in foster homes.
“Last year, we rescued 17 litters, and most of them were rescued by people in the community who took care of the moms and the litter at their own homes. Then when they were able to be weaned, we were able to take them,” O’Brien said. “In the cases where the mommy was social enough, we were able to get mommy adopted also.”
She added, in several cases, the mother cats were feral, but the rescuers made sure the cats were spayed before releasing them.
“We could not function if not for the community,” O’Brien said.
Some of Precious Paws community partners include: Oak Village Women’s Club, Women of Sugarmill Woods, the Walden Woods community, Tractor Supply in Homosassa, PetSense in Beverly Hills, Floral City Animal Clinic and Pet Center pet groomer in Crystal River.
“About four years ago, someone dumped a litter of kittens outside of Pet Center,” O’Brien said. “One of our volunteers has her dogs groomed there (and learned) that they fostered the kittens there at Pet Center, and right now they have a pregnant mommy (cat) there. The cats that get fostered there have a great time socializing with the dogs that are there.”
Like many nonprofit organizations, Precious Paws relies solely on donations from the community to pay for everything from food and cat litter to emergency surgeries and dental care for the older dogs they rescue.
Mocha is a young cat that has been living at Precious Paws in Lecanto.
Before an animal is adopted, Precious Paws makes sure any needed veterinary care is taken care of.
“Our goal is to have these animals as healthy as they can be, and this way we know the animal has any needed vet care done,” O’Brien said.
Precious Paws has public adoptions the first Saturday of the month at Tractor Supply, 3826 S Suncoast Blvd, Homosassa, FL 34448, also the third Saturday of the month at PetSense, 3545 N Lecanto Hwy, Beverly Hills, FL 34465.
Precious Paws is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day at 3768 W Gulf to Lake Highway, Lecanto, FL 34461, in the plaza at the intersection of State Road 44 and Homosassa Trail.
Walk-ins are welcome to come and visit the cats, especially children (with a parent).
“The way we grew up, I volunteered since I was in grammar school — my mother always volunteered,” O’Brien said. “That’s why I encourage kids to come in and experience what we’re doing … and that we’re making a difference for the pets and for the people who adopt them.”