Courtesy of Maya Azzaro
Jenn Paz holds her favorite rat ever, Seymour. He passed away this past May.
Where do all of the homeless small animal pets, such as hamsters, rats and guinea pigs, end up? The typical animal shelters do not take them, usually because homeless cats and dogs require all their resources and/or because the small animal pets require specialized care they are unable to provide. The fate of these pets is often not a happy one. Thankfully, there are people out there fighting for those lost little souls. And one of them is Jenn Paz of North Star Rescue in Pacifica, California.
All Pet Rodents Are Welcome!
North Star Rescue is very unique in that it is the only rescue organization in the Bay Area specifically dedicated to all species of pet rodents. It is also not an entity limited to one location or role. Paz said some of the many services the multipurpose organization provides include rescue and foster services for California shelters, public adoptions of small animals, behavioral advice and educational events.
How A Merger Created A Mighty Organization
Paz has a lot going for her. And I do mean a lot! She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology at England’s Reading University and completed her Master of Counselling at Edinburgh University. As if that isn’t impressive enough, she pursued a PhD in biology at the University of Stirling and completed half of that. Paz is a ball of energy and has a boundless passion for animals of all types. But her heart truly lies with the often-overlooked smaller species that people sometimes take for granted. Seeing the need for rescuers and shelters for small pet companions, she combined her love of animal welfare with her education and skill sets to found Coastside Cavy in 2013. However, she soon found herself wanting to expand her efforts with helping guinea pigs to also include other pet rodents.
By the fall of 2014, Paz became the Rescue Director of the new coalition that is today’s North Star Rescue, relieving Paul of her position.
Today Paul is still very active in the organization and has taken on the role of Director of Technology and Co-Executive Director.
“I created it with the intention of getting the rescue to a self-supporting position eventually,” Paz said. “I am always trying to create new ways to make it a self-sustainable business.”
“It is a super cool space!” Paz said.
Top two images Courtesy of Maggie Amiano/bottom image courtesy of Lauren Paul
Part of North Star Rescue’s mission is to educate people about small animal pets. The top two images are from the San Francisco SPCA Animal Camp event where Jenn Paz of North Star Rescue was invited to speak. The bottom image is the North Star Rescue booth at the Nihonmachi Street Fair.
Networking Works For Animal Rescue, Too!
The strength of Paz and North Star Rescue lies in the fact that they network with such a wide variety of organizations that help animals, as well as with professionals, shelters, businesses, and so on to further their mission. The San Francisco SPCA is one of the many that they work with. Maggie Amiano is the Humane Education Manager. She originally sought out North Star Rescue to foster and adopt small pets like guinea pigs and rats for their educational programs, and Paz brought the adorable critters to one of their camps.
“She spoke to the kids in a respectful, fun and informative way,” Amiano said. “She is passionate about animals and gets the kids excited about learning how to care for and respect the animals.”
“North Star Rescue is a fantastic organization changing the face of small animal adoption and saving countless lives along the way,” Amiano said. “North Star Rescue is progressive, helpful, creative, endlessly compassionate, and doing more than their part to ending small animal overpopulation and euthanasia.”
“From the first phone call with Jenn I felt like she was a longtime friend,” Williamson said. “She is very personal and knowledgeable. She is always friendly and makes herself available whenever needed.”
Gridley has nothing but words of praise for Paz. “She truly cares about the animals even after they have been adopted,” he said. “Her service doesn’t stop once the animals leave her rescue.”
Three tiny champions entered another adopters life when she came through North Star Rescue’s doors seeking a small companion to help her son with anxiety issues.
And, true to form, the pet rats have been a great comfort to her son. One has even “helped” him with his homework when he sits on his shoulder. It should be no surprise that something as engaging and bonding as a rat would be the perfect answer for someone needing comfort.
It’s true, rats can offer comfort and smiles to people.
Rescuing, Fundraising And Fun For Small Animals
Something is always going on at North Star Rescue. Along with typical rescues of single or small numbers of pet rodents, they are occasionally faced with mass rescues. Right now they are handling a large rat hoarding case in the East Bay involving upwards of 500 rats. There are ongoing educational services and projects throughout the year. One of the events that the organization hosts is the annual Pignic. This usually occurs in Cupertino, but this year it expanded to include a pignic in Novato, too. That took place on August 22. The Cupertino pignic takes place on September 12. These are fun events for guinea pigs and guinea pig lovers that fundraise for local guinea pig rescues and help raise public awareness of the need for adopting guinea pigs.
There is plenty planned for the future.
“We have recently entered into a new partnership with the Oakland Animal Shelter to create a small animal program for their organization,” Paz said. “The shelter used to be run under the police department, but last year they were separated and the new director Rebecca Katz, former Director of SFACC, is completely overhauling the program there. She has always been a big supporter of small animals and we love working with her.”
Ways To Help Out
Do you want to help Paz help the pet rodents that have so little help? There are many ways to do so, and not all require money.
1. Simple words of encouragement go a long, long way to lift morale and help reenergize Paz and her staff so they can keep forging ahead to help pet rodents. So feel free to heap on the compliments!
3. Volunteers are crucial to their work. If you’d like to help hands-on, contact Volunteer Coordinator Karen Cravatto at Karen@northstarrescue.org for more information to learn how you can do so. There are plenty of ways to offer a helping hand such as animal care, transportation, and event help.
A Mission To Help Small Animal Pets
Paul said that North Star Rescue has taken in and adopted out no less than a thousand animals each year since 2010. Not all animals are adoptable. Animals with severe behavioral issues and medical conditions find a safe haven for the rest of their lives at the rescue, as it is a no-kill shelter.