LOS ANGELES – The sight of the dark charcoal blue-grey Chrysler Van parking out the front of their residence was a welcome sight for about 1,200 plus Angelenos per month who rely on assistance to feed their beloved furry pet companions.
Last Friday, August 21 however, there was an abrupt disruption to the delivery of the needed food and other supplies when the van was involved in a crash near Venice and Washington in West Los Angeles. The 2005 Town & Country was totaled according to Pamela Magette, the executive director of Pets Are Wonderful Support/Los Angeles, better known by its acronym PAWS/LA.
“Our van was a vital lifeline to the hundreds of home-bound clients who rely on us for food for their beloved pets every month. In light of COVID-19, our ability to reach our clients will be especially impacted without a vehicle,” Magette told the Blade this week in a phone interview.
The coronavirus pandemic has presented the charity with unique challenges as its staff of approximately 100 volunteers are on hiatus leaving the van as principal means to accomplish PAWS/LA’s deliveries. The van, which had been donated a few years ago, was driven by PAWS/LA volunteer coordinator John Meeks, who was not injured in the collision which had been forceful enough to deploy the van’s airbag restraint system Magette said.
Although the charity’s insurance has temporarily provided a rental vehicle, the challenge now says Magette is to raise the funds to purchase a replacement.
PAWS/LA was founded over 31 years ago by West Hollywood resident and community activist Nadia Sutton who also served on the West Hollywood Gay and Lesbian Advisory Board- and was a founding board member of The Lavender Effect, a nonprofit that educates people on the history of the LGBT movement, especially in Southern California.
PAWS/LA stated mission then was to take care of the pets of people suffering from HIV-AIDS. It has since expanded to include Seniors, Veterans, and disabled Angelenos affected by life-threatening illnesses.
“There are those of us who will never forget the early days of the AIDS epidemic. The terror, the uncertainty, and the pain of losing so many loved ones while wondering if there would ever be a treatment, let alone a cure,” Magette said. “It was a time marked by a sense of powerlessness and heartbreak, and not at all dissimilar to what we are experiencing today with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The charity’s basic tenant is that no person should ever be separated from their beloved pet and with the help of an army of thousands of volunteers over the past three decades, it has worked to ensure that its tens of thousands of clients have free pet food, pet supplies, veterinary care, and grooming services.
For many of the charity’s clients, their pet is the only source of hope, comfort, and companionship they have. COVID-19 has made their lives even harder and more isolated, but PAWS/LA’s work ensures that the special bond with their pet remains unbroken.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left thousands across the Southland unemployed and in many cases quarantined, hence the need for the work of PAWS/LA is the greatest it’s ever been for support for their pet food bank and veterinary services.
Now there’s a critically needed support for a new delivery van. Please help PAWS/LA if you can. After 31 years, their commitment to Angelenos remains undiminished.
If you would like to help, please go to their website at www.pawsla.org to contribute.