Founder, Matt Piccone
I have always had a strong passion for rescuing and caring for animals in need of help. I had been working as a technician with a national cable company for almost ten years at the time PAWS was launched. Seven of those years I worked as a Signal Security Technician, of which our primary focus was to identify cable fraud and perform routine audits. I spent the first 4-5 months of each year working the entire inner city of Rochester, NY. I spent my days driving around, but mostly walking in and out of yards, alleys, etc. and I found myself having been exposed to countless situations of disturbing scenes. In my earlier years I struggled with trying to find any sort of assistance, when reporting these situations. My conscience could not allow me to just be numb to these scenarios and accept them as ‘normal.’
I frequently called out to various organizations, designed to protect the welfare of these animals, in order to obtain some sort of assistance. Often times, if anyone actually did respond, I was often told there’s nothing they could do, or they informed me they would pay a visit; however, when I would follow up myself, I would only see the dogs in the same extreme situation of distress. If local animal control did take any steps in removing the animals, I often was informed the animal had to be put down due to a failure when undergoing their so called ‘tests.’ I just couldn’t comprehend how I was often facing such cold and numb responses. I couldn’t handle how the animal welfare in our city was seemingly being ignored. This evident problem taking place right in our city was extremely disturbing, and I refused to quit pursuing a change. Initially, I decided I was going to start letting my persistent nature take over, in contacting local animal control, when I came across these situations, in order to ensure the safety of these animals was as important to them as it was to me. When I had to contact the local humane society and/or animal control, after so many attempts, I was finally put in touch with a former SPCA officer. He had the same mindset I did, and was impressed with my persistence on behalf of these animals. He informed me I was reporting legitimate and severe cases; from that point forward, my calls were taken consistently and officers were quick to follow up on my reports. I had become good friends with the officer through all of this, and I was able to rely on him directly. Often times, when seeing a stray animal, whether it appeared to be visibly abused or neglected or even when surrendered to me, I directly rescued many of these animals myself. After verifying they were not being pursued or claimed, I had taken it upon myself to adopt them or place them in good homes, as I knew they had a better chance than being surrendered. My family and friends, throughout the years, have given numerous dogs and some cats ‘forever’ homes and provided them with the much needed medical care, even necessary surgeries at times.
What finally triggered me to wake up and do what was so prominently evident was a scenario I encountered in early 2011. I rescued a female Pit Bull puppy who was on her own and looked as either she was badly beaten and/or thrown out of a car. She was in dire need of medical attention and rescuing. She was curled up under a utility pole in the city. When I approached her I realized she was extremely scared, more scared than any dog I had ever encountered, and she could not walk on her hind legs. She had some cuts on her head, and she was in bad shape. I immediately contacted a good friend of mine, who without hesitation said he would come get her and take her in. She was in really bad shape, and he paid for a major hip surgery, with procuring some funds from various rescue grants. That was the ‘last straw.’ I couldn’t no longer keep doing this. These types of scenarios and situations had happened way too often for me not to see the ‘writing on the wall,’ per se. This particular rescue just fueled the fire for me to forge ahead with my life-long desire to open up a non-profit animal welfare organization, particularly initiated in the city limits, where a presence is so desperately needed on behalf of these animals.
My wife and I had been saving in order to start a non-profit rescue organization, but immediately came to the realization, another rescue is not going to tackle the real issues at hand. This was especially evident in January of 2012, when I came across the idea to offer straw to some residents, where I noticed the shelter for their dogs was inadequate, at best. They were eager to take the straw, and even more grateful for the assistance. So while that was just an initial stepping stone, we had gotten quite a bit of positive response in regards to starting up PAWS (Providing Animal Welfare Services). I’ve came to realize even more how there are many people who actually want to help their animals, they just don’t know how to. We want to keep these dogs from being picked up or surrendered to local animal control. We want these residents to be not only assisted, but educated on how to properly care for thie pets, what is not only required, but what is the right thing to do on behalf of their animals.
So my wife, Laura, and I officially launched PAWS on February 20, 2012. It’s a strong passion we share and want to pass down to our children. There is a never ending reward you receive when you care for living creatures who so desperately rely on us for their well-being. We just couldn’t accept the fact changes were not being made. If you want a change, you have to go out and take the first step in initiating it. The future of our organization is uncertain, for the fact we don’t know how fast and how widespread the success stories will take place, but we do know there will be successes. Thank you for your support, and we look forward to transforming this community, and down the road, many more!
Matt Piccone (Founder of PAWS)