Kismet and Karma chase each other back and forth in their “penthouse.” The kitten and puppy stop to play with a two-legged visitor, then their game begins anew.
Such is their life now at Mesa’s Rescue Pawtique, which celebrated its “grand opening” Saturday at Superstition Springs Center.
The Pawtique is a dream of Panacea Animal Wellness Sanctuary founders Michele Elek and Dr. Eva DeCozio-Bush. The two started Panacea in 2009, taking in animals off the euthanasia lists at county and other community facilities and placing them in short-term foster care until they’re well enough to be adopted. Until this spring, they’ve not had one site to house a large number of animals in need of “forever homes.”
The idea of a mall location came in the fall when Elek read a story about Superstition Springs Center’s parent company, Macerich, looking to put animal rescue facilities in former pet store spots. It took months of contact and work, Elek said, but in March, Pawtique had its “soft” opening.
Since then, the facility has averaged about one adoption a day. The Pawtique only carries cats and small dogs, but Panacea takes in dogs and cats of all sizes.
“We didn’t anticipate having so many adoptions so quickly,” Elek said. “The community has been so supportive of this. It’s a nice location, too, because there are a lot of retirement communities,” around Superstition Springs Center. Many of the store’s 40 volunteers come from those communities, she said.
Like animal foster-care homes, Pawtique screens potential adoptive families to make sure they’re a good fit for the animal, Elek said.
“We’ll meet with them and spend time with them,” she said. If there are any other animals in the home, Panacea conducts a home visit.
“We spend a lot of time on the front end to make sure it’s a good match,” she said.
Any animal that comes from the Maricopa County Animal Control shelters is first screened and given health treatments before being put up for adoption. Many come to Panacea with upper respiratory infections or kennel cough, both treatable, Elek said.
“We take care of all their medical needs before they go there. Animals are put in temporary foster homes until they get over what they have, then they go to the Pawtique,” DeCozio-Bush said.
Animals are also brought into Pawtique from DeCozio-Bush’s veterinary clinic.
That’s how Kismet and Karma came together. They were brought in for treatment, Elek said, and were housed together at the clinic. They became so attached that Elek and DeCozio-Bush decided to put them up for adoption together.
Volunteers man the Pawtique and do everything from cleaning out kennels to walking the animals to greeting visitors. A steady stream of moms with children in strollers, young adults and winter visitors walked into the Pawtique Monday afternoon, with volunteer Bev Gentry welcoming them.
While Bev took care of visitors at the front end of the store, her husband, John, took care of the four-legged guests in the back.
The Mesa residents heard about Pawtique from a member of the Panacea board.
“My husband and I were looking for something we can do together,” she said. Now, they’re at the Pawtique three to five days a week.
“We get our ‘pet fix,’” she said. “It’s so rewarding.”
In the center of the Pawtique, Elek has created an education wall where there’s information about vaccines, spay and neutering, the mission of Panacea, and more.
“It’s getting the word out there and erasing the stigma of rescue animals,” she said. “There’s a wealth of information we want to get out there. … We can pull and pull and pull from the pound or kill list, but it’s not getting to the core of the problem.”
There’s still a big need for short-term foster care families. The more families that take in animals under medical care, the more animals that will become available for adoption, she said.
Panacea is a nonprofit organization. Macerich leased the facility to Pawtique for free, but the organization has to come up with more than $1,400 a month to cover utilities.
The Rescue Pawtique
What: Adoption site for Panacea Animal Wellness Sanctuary
Where: Superstition Springs Mall, 6555 E Southern Ave., Mesa on the 2nd floor near Dillards
Details: Adoption fees are $75 for adult cats and $100 for kittens, which includes spay/neuter, microchip, FeLV/FIV testing, and vaccinations. The adoption center only has small dogs under 20 pounds available for adoption. Adoption fees are $200 for adult dogs and $300 for puppies, which also includes spay/neuter, microchip and vaccinations. Adoption counseling and screening are provided.
Information: www.pawsaz.org or call (480) 634-1191
Contact writer: (480) 898-6549 or email@example.com