by Joya DiStefano
Introduction: Who is the PAWS Dogfather and why should you care?
“There are 25,567 days in 70 years, and this year I want to raise a dollar for every single one of them.”
“Welcome to Bedlam” reads a sign coming up our driveway. Michael had it made for me one Christmas. It is a testimonial to the love he bears for me – and recognition of the life to which he is wedded. I responded the following year with the one under it that says, “Must Love Dogs,” which he does – all the dogs, all the many, many dogs, even Percy and probably Benny, too. Michael is a dog-lover. Michael has been my partner for over 23 years, and my husband for 22, in large part because he is a dog-lover. Close to a 100 dogs have come through our lives over our years together, some for no more than a night, others for their lifetime.
This man, this rock-solid man, this uncomplicated, dedicated man, has made many lives possible – mine for starters, and many, many more, most of them four-legged. If I am a kite, Michael holds my string; if PAWS is a sailboat, Michael is its keel.
The idea to celebrate Michael’s seventieth birthday for a year prior, as a tribute that could also serve as a unique fundraiser for PAWS, our animal welfare organization, occurred as PAWS, Inc. confronted a $6,000.00 vet bill just before his 69th birthday in early May. Michael is the Treasurer of Palmetto Animal Welfare Services, which he helped establish to address critical problems in the periphery of a very large rural county with two new animal shelters in its center. Michael is one of those behind-the-scenes guys; the kind who goes unnoticed until they are not there and the bottom falls out.
As our new county shelter opened, designed and equipped to address the existing problem of unwanted and neglected animal, PAWS was established to keep that problem from outgrowing the new facility by addressing the plight dogs and cats where they live, before they get to the shelter.
In a little over two years, PAWS has either rescued or facilitated the rescue of more than 700 dogs (and a few cats), and it has funded all or part of the spay/neuter surgeries for at least 600 animals. For more than seven years, Michael has established and maintained the financial systems to keep all our animal welfare efforts solvent, documented and reported as necessary. Michael’s training is in accounting, but his love is golf, and sports, good food and travel…and me and our dogs, all thirteen of them, except for maybe Benny.
This month, PAWS is launching a year-long fundraiser to honor our wonderful Dogfather. It will run through next May 2017, when Michael turns 70. We hope that if you know and love this man, or what he stands for, you will make a monthly pledge for the next year: $30-31/month gets your tribute on the Dogfather Tee, all publicity, and an invitation to the party; $15-21/month gets you on the t-shirt and your name in the drawing for the party; $7-14/month gets you a t-shirt. Any amount you donate to the Dollar-a-Day Dogfather Fundraiser gets you the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping PAWS do more of the work we were established to do: see that no healthy or treatable companion animal has to die for want of a good home!
Do it for Michael. Do it for PAWS. Most importantly, do it for the animals.
More stories to come from the annals of The Dollar-a-Day Dogfather in monthly installments…