Wisconsin is certainly a state that surprised us on our Adventure Of A Lifetime. Good food, happy, friendly people and wonderful scenery were just the beginning. When we found out about Helping Paws Pet Rescue in the small town of Washburn, we knew that we had to visit. This rescue was founded by a caring veterinarian, Dr. Gretchen Gerber. It was our latest stop across the country and truth be told, it was the first visit after twenty states that made me break down in tears. I had been so strong up until this point, but one cat touched me. And I will never look at rescue the same again.
Dr. Gretchen Gerber started Helping Paws Pet Rescue in 2006. Their website explains how this wonderful rescue came to be.
“Helping PAWS Pet Rescue, Inc. was founded for the sole purpose of helping to stop the suffering of companion animals caused by homelessness, overpopulation, and mistreatment. The goal of the organization is that no adoptable companion animal ever be euthanized for lack of medical care and a good home. This goal is not limited to dogs and cats, but extends equally to horses, rabbits, birds and other domestic species. Homeless and unwanted animals are offered not just a “humane” alternative, but are provided in each case the best possible process that would result in each individual pet finding its forever-home. This organization’s mission is unique in that it includes not only young, healthy homeless pets, but also owner surrenders and individuals with medical needs that would cause them to be rejected by or euthanized by other organizations.”
This explanation on their website simply made us stop and think. How many veterinarians would undertake starting a rescue? We can imagine how busy their daily schedules are from appointments, surgeries, not to mention their personal lives. So for us, it was apparent that this should be our Wisconsin pick for our Adventure Of A Lifetime.
On our trip, we have came across many people trying their best to make a difference in their own communities and beyond for animals, but this is surely our first time meeting a veterinarian like Dr. Gerber. For 26 years, Dr. Gerber has refused to perform “euthanasias of convenience”. During our tour and interview, Dr. Gerber constantly referred to the animals in her care as “individuals”, and this certainly touched our hearts.
Touring Dr. Gerber’s meticulous office, we felt the love. We saw how much the staff respected not only their doctor, but the animals entrusted in their care. Although Helping Paws Pet Rescue is ran out of Dr. Gerber’s office of Country Care Pet Hospital, they have a professional separation of the two in order to ensure their client’s comfort during office visits. It is their goal to have a separate building, right outside their office however and they excitedly have already started work on this!
We were able to see how the community is supporting their rescue efforts as they were dropping off goods to raise funds at a community yard sale and how Dr. Gerber’s husband Fred was doing much of the work himself. How inspiring it is to see so many people happily working together for the good of animals.
So. You may be wondering. What made me cry during our visit if this was such a happy place? You may see animals shared on your Facebook timeline everyday across our country in need of a home. It is easy to forget that every single one of these animals have a story. And they do. We met one of Dr. Gerber’s rescues who was an owner surrender named Mittens. This beautiful cat was so heartbroken, that he stopped eating.
As Dr. Gerber explained, cats have special dietary needs, and his refusal to eat caused the onset of kidney failure. Dr. Gerber was not about to let him give up. He is being cared for so lovingly by Dr. Gerber who even takes him home with her. She does not know when he will be physically healed for adoption, but until then, he is getting so much love. I have looked into the many eyes of animals on our trip across the country. Many times I see stress, or anxiousness. But this is the very first time I have looked into an animal’s eyes and saw pure, unfiltered sadness. I immediately broke down in tears. We know so many animals are killed everyday across our country. But never forget. They are each “individuals” as Dr. Gerber puts it.
Each animal saved makes a difference. Helping Paws Pet Rescue may not have huge adoption numbers like big facilities, but again, every life matters. And they serve the need of this community in a huge way.
From cats, dogs and even horses, this is where many animals find out that they do matter. That someone will not give up on them, discard them, or devalue them. From cases of physical ailments to cases of behavior problems, Dr. Gerber finds a way…her way to make a difference.
It was our distinct privilege to have met her and be able to tell our fans about her. We hope that you will be moved to follow Helping Paws Pet Rescue on their Facebook page for current adoptables and happy ending stories, but also to find out how you can show your support for their efforts. If you live in the community, you can drop by some supplies, or fans can mail them in!
Just one of their adoptables we met was Xedo. A special needs case, Xedo wears diapers. But as Dr.Gerber was telling us his story, he was running circles around us, completely unaware of his “special needs”. We think that an animal’s positive attitude is definitely due to the care he receives. Dr. Gerber explained how easy it was to purchase children’s diapers and how you never had to have a litter pan! We thought he was the cutest.
This small town of Washburn Wisconsin is definitely a place you should visit. We thank the good people at Cafe Coco for their delicious food, the campground for giving us a retreat on Lake Superior and the dog-friendly National Lakeshore. We will be back one day Wisconsin!
Thanks again to Dr. Gerber and her staff! Find out more about Helping Paws Pet Rescue by visiting their website, www.ourhelpingpaws.com
Helping PAWS Pet Rescue, Inc
939 W Bayfield St, Washburn, Wisconsin 54891