Paws Crossed hit at Pollard-McCall
February 28, 2019
Students from kindergarten to eighth grade filled the gym at Pollard-McCall Junior High School Tuesday morning for Paws Crossed Dog Rescue, a pet care program started by former teacher Renee Johnson.
Johnson taught school in Escambia County (Ala.) for more than 20 years and discovered she had degenerative disk disease, which led her to the program.
“I found out I have degenerating back disease, and with the day in day out of everyday teaching, I wasn't dependable,” said Johnson. “So I retired from teaching and went into a depression. My counselor suggested I get involved with something. Animals are my passion, so I got involved with this program. It was a life saver. I feel needed again.”
Johnson started with them in February of 2018 and the program has gotten big over the past year. Johnson said volunteers have about 70 dogs in rescue, and the program is foster-based.
The program is run by all volunteers and any donation is tax-deductible. Money donated helps take care of medical costs and needs of the pets being fostered, until they find their 'fur'-ever homes.
“We have really great fosters who take the dogs into their home and train them to be adoptable dogs. They house train them, leash train them. They do everything to help our dogs to be good family members.”
Johnson said every board member has at least six dogs at a time and one has up to 28 dogs at any time.
“We really need fosters,” she said. “Supporters are great with our vet bills reaching as high as $60,000.”
Johnson said that in just four months, from Oct. 1, 2018 to Feb. 1, 2019, the bill for spaying and neutering was more than $5000. She said they will be getting a reimbursement grant anytime to pay that money back.
“We've started new programs going into schools to teach kids to be responsible pet owners,” said Johnson. “People think animals are disposable when they fall on hard times. We teach the basic needs of these animals to students. Our main goal is to control pet population by spaying and neutering pets. We can help people who have fallen on hard times through Lee Vet Clinic. If someone receives Medicaid, they can spay or neuter a pet for $20.”
Johnson said the non-profit organization has a Facebook Messenger page, Paws Crossed Dog Rescue and that anyone in need can send a message. She said they will look for resources to help people out.
“We've been to Brewton, Uriah, and local schools,” said Johnson. 'We would love to come to any schools that invite us. Just get in touch with me and we will come.”
Johnson can be reached by contacting 251-363-6912 or on Facebook Messenger at Paws Crossed Dog Rescue.