Happy Wednesday! I have quite the treat for you today. While at a Pet Expo, I saw this sweet pup named Chilly, with purple hair. Purple hair?, you ask? Yes, awesomely tie dyed purple hair. He was well behaved, sitting like a king next to his booth.
I went up to say hello and I met Lori Pasternak’s husband, Jake, who was representing her awesome veterinary clinic, Helping Hands, which is dedicated to preventing economic euthanasia. Their mission is awesome, Lori is passionate, their dog Chilly is the most handsome tie dyed dog I’ve ever seen, and was also in the world’s most expensive pet wedding, and all in all the Pasternak’s and Helping Hands is just the best. And lucky for me, and you of course, Lori kindly agreed to participate in an interview. Enjoy!
How/why did you start Helping Hands?
The start of Helping Hands was totally unexpected. I never wanted to own my own business, so when I told my husband about my epiphany, he was totally blown away.
I have always had a talent and love for surgery above all else in veterinary medicine. I realized that there are many places for those less fortunate to get low cost wellness care or spay/neuter, but beyond that there is nothing. What about those pets faced with the need for life saving surgery, but their owners simply cannot afford it? Those owners have to choose between saving their pets and being able to pay their bills or feed their children? A light bulb went off. I love surgery and would love to do nothing else.
Routine, repetitive spay/neuter would bore me because I love the challenge of advanced surgery. I could get to do what I love all day, and help so many people and their pets who desperately need it. Because I love surgery, I am very good and very fast, so it is safer for the animals because they are under anesthesia for a shorter period of time, and I can help many animals in a day, so I can charge less. I work very hard, but I sleep well at night. Partly, because I’m exhausted, but mostly because I am saving the lives of animals who otherwise would have been euthanized, simply because their owners were less fortunate.
What is your mission for Helping Hands?
My mission at Helping Hands is simple… Prevention of economic euthanasia.
How can people help support your organization?
The best way anyone can support Helping Hands is by word of mouth. We still, after 4 years, meet people who say that they recently put their pet to sleep because it needed surgery they could not afford. They just did not know another option existed. They did not know about Helping Hands.
Do you have animals of your own? How did they come to live with you?
I currently only have Chilly. I lost my other 3 dogs over the last 2 years and have not yet replaced them. (I’m starting to get the itch.) Between Chilly, my husband, my kids, who are 8 and 10, and Helping Hands, I don’t want to stretch myself too thin. I get to spend my day with many amazing animals so I get my fill at the office. I know it won’t be much longer before another 4 legged friend steals my heart.
Chilly came from BARK rescue. He was brought in to be treated and we fell instantly in love. He had already been adopted and was on his way to his new home. Three days later, he returned to Helping Hands because his new home “did not work out” and the rescue worker remembered our connection. It seems cliché, but it was meant to be.
Here’s a picture of Chilly from his pet wedding. He looks so handsome!
How can pet owners work with Helping Hands to more affordably help their pets?
My true love is surgery, but I added dental care to our mission because it was the one other procedure I saw so many animals go without due to high costs.
Dental care is rarely lifesaving (although I can give you many examples of when it was), but is always life changing. People have no idea how much pain their pets are in due to tooth aches, until they actually get their pet’s mouths cleaned up. We get calls every day thanking us for dental care. Their pets act years younger after getting their mouths cleaned and people don’t get it until they see it with their own eyes.
Imagine living with a chronic tooth ache. Pets don’t complain. They don’t even stop eating until the pain is so bad they cannot stand it anymore. It is instinctual for them. Infection from dental disease gets into the blood stream and leads to many internal infections and diseases, so one way people can more affordably help their pets is with routine preventative dental care. I’m hoping that by providing dental care affordably, more people will not skip it and will keep their pets from needing more expensive, preventable medical care.
Are you involved with any animal rescues? If so, who are you involved with and how are you involved?
We work with all rescue and animal welfare groups along the East Coast. By providing affordable rates, we can help animals in their care get the help they need to get adopted, or as a resource for them to give people who want to keep their pets but are considering giving them up to a rescue because they think they cannot afford to keep them.
We can help rescue organizations stretch their money to help more animals in their care. One example is the Mosby Foundation who provides financial assistance for pet health care. They require people who ask for their assistance to use us so that their money can help multiple animals.
Express your experience in starting and being involved with Helping Hands in one word.
My one word would be … humbled.
People have come from far and wide to help support my mission in so many unexpected ways. We were able to get off the ground with help from many volunteers. Even though we do not rely on donations, (we are not a non-profit) we receive very generous medical supply donations from hospitals, financial donations from admirers, and office supply donations. Our equipment suppliers offer us discounts, and we are always willing to barter.
The media, just like you, (including TV, print and online) has provided us with amazing marketing by featuring us. We have also received many awards for our efforts. I am so grateful, amazed, appreciative and humbled by who and what Helping Hands has brought into my life.
And to think I almost passed up the opportunity to pet Chilly, I would have never met Lori and her husband! Thank you, Lori, for your selfless service to mans’ best friends. When I read about your mission, I was completely humbled and moved. I couldn’t imagine having to choose between paying for my pet’s life saving surgery or keeping my house, and thanks to your creation of and dedication to Helping Hands, you are helping pet owners everywhere give their babies another chance! Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a real life hero!
Come back Friday for some exciting news!