This week's New Yorker is a lifelong animal lover who realized that pet owners can be just as vulnerable as their furrier friends, and she set out to do something about it. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report, which was shot, written and edited by Rachel Smith.
PAWS New York is a nonprofit founded by Rachel Herman that provides free assistance to elderly or homebound pet owners.
"Most of our clients come to us, they feel like they have no other choice. They don't know what to do," Herman says. "They fear they might have to lose their animal, relinquish them to the shelter system, just because they can't provide that care anymore."
Volunteers help in a variety of ways to keep pets in their homes.
Adel Iskander is a PAWS client who lost a leg several years ago because of an illness. Herman paired him up with Suzanne Kranock, a professional dog walker who lives down the block and now volunteers her time with Adel's dog, Alex.
"I love it," Kranock says. "He's a neighbor I didn't know, and it's been great getting to know him, and I love seeing his relationship with Alex. It's wonderful."
Millie Emory agrees. The Upper East Sider relies on her volunteer, Jillian Schwam, to help take care of three cats, who she calls her children.
"Oh, I look forward to having her come," Emory says. "That's why I say 'Hello sunshine,' because she is the sunshine of my life. She's wonderful."
"It just makes me feel great," says volunteer Jillian Schwam. "It makes Millie feel great. It helps the cats. So it's a benefit for everybody."
That feeling is what Herman hopes to bring to as many PAWS clients, and their pets, as possible.
"I can't imagine being in a situation where I can't take care of my animal," she says. "It's in no way a reflection of who you are as a person. It's just the circumstances that you've found yourself in, and I just wanted to do something."
That something is clearly making a difference.
So, for keeping people together with the pet they love, Rachel Herman and her PAWS volunteers are our New Yorkers of the Week.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information about volunteering or donating at Paws New York, visit their website at pawsny.org.