It’s a terrible feeling to find your pet is missing. And even with all of social media at our fingertips, it’s easy to feel like no one is helping you and like you’ll never see your pet again. I Paw’d It Forward is a nonprofit dedicated to helping people find missing pets in Clark County and surrounding areas.
I Paid It Forward Started with Shoes
Wait what? Yup, originally, says founder Keri-Lyn Jakubs, her organization – started in 2011 – was I Paid it Forward, and didn’t have much – if anything – to do with animals. Instead, the nonprofit chose Kindness Ambassadors throughout schools in the Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon area from nominations they received.
“We gave Kindness Ambassadors a brand-new pair of shoes to wear,” Keri-Lyn explains. “In return, each young person agreed to pay this kindness forward. They were tasked to go find someone else that may be in need of a new pair of shoes, or maybe someone who just needed a hand up, or maybe they find someone they love they want to share their kindness with. It isn’t just about need, but we all need something or someone at some point. The young people were given Kindness Cards with instructions on them for the person that receives it. We were then contacted, showed up at their school and fit them into a new pair of kicks!”
The kids were responsible for continuing the “pay it forward” element. In the first four years, they put an astounding 10,000 pairs of shoes on kids across Clark and Multnomah counties.
I Paw’d It Forward: Help for Missing Pets
“Animals have always been an integral part of my life, and truly a saving grace for my soul,” shares Keri-Lyn about why I Paw’d It Forward has always been in her mind, even if it was originally secondary to I Paid it Forward.
“I wanted to make sure we supported keeping families together and that meant making sure our animal family members stayed home and with their families, and so I Paw’d It Forward became part of who we are,” she continues. “There are so many rescues out there, but there are not many resources, if any in most places, for lost or found pets. I knew we needed to be able to fill the gap and I knew I had the skillset to make that happen.”
Their website is a place where you can look for your lost pet as well as report a pet you found or lost. Having one place you can quickly look each day to see if someone has found your pet, can help get your pet home faster.
And a pet is not limited to dog or cat! It can be anything. Maybe your horse or llama got out of its field, your bird flew away or small animal slipped it’s enclosure. I Paw’d It Forwards helps them all find their way back home.
Volunteers Help Lost Pets in Clark County and Beyond
It’s easy to not think clearly when your beloved pet is missing. The volunteers at I Paw’d It Forward help by providing a list of what you should do when a pet goes missing. They offer signage at no charge and a 24/7 contact number. Volunteers also help in the actual searching for and even trapping of lost pets.
“After being missing for nine days, I was pretty sure that I would never see Dart again,” says Mary Crichton, whose Shetland sheepdog went missing in 2021. “Thanks to the cooperation of four Battle Ground organizations in the very early hours of the day, Dart was returned to me by I Paw’d It Forward. I just can’t send out enough thanks to all those involved. He is home safe and sound and isn’t telling anyone of his adventures.” Since I Paw’d It Forward has relationships with police, fire and emergency in our area, these organizations know to call them when they find a stray pet. That’s how Dash was able to have his happy ending.
Not surprisingly, I Paw’d It Forward grew quickly. “The animal side grew exponentially over the years and in 2016 we flipped from I Paid It Forward as the primary to I Paw’d It Forward as the Primary,” Keri-Lyn explains. “We still support our community giving programs through I Paid It Forward in many ways.”
How You Can Help Lost Pets in Clark County and Beyond
“All of the services we provide in our community are at no cost to our community members,” explains Keri-Lyn. “We respond to lost and found animals every day, and every night.”
They also have their own private dog park, free to use for the community, and places to house found pets that are waiting for their owners. They will also watch pets for people who are in the hospital. Donations go to the upkeep of these services as well paying for supplies for things like printing signage to help bring lost pets home.
I Paw’d It Forward also runs a pet food bank and accepts in-kind donations. In addition to food, their bank includes things like animal medical supplies for people who are caring for animals with expensive medical conditions and more.
“Our mission has always been to support community,” share Kery-Lyn. “We believe in what community means to us, and we believe that now more than ever, we need each other. Our motto is #BetterTogether. We cannot do all of these things without the support of the community.”
To learn more, visit the I Paw’d It Forward website and follow them on Facebook.