Running a rescue

February 4, 2018

Spot is one of 4Paws’ dogs and is taken care of by community volunteers and 4Paws employees. – Photo by Ashley Kober

Managing Editor | mrb056@ latech.edu

Throwing balls, cleaning kennels and rubbing dog bellies are all in a day’s work at 4 Paws Rescue Inc., located in Ruston. 4 Paws is a nonprofit organization that’s mission, as stated on its website, is to provide food, shelter, medical care, recreation and a safe environment for homeless animals.


Sue Martin, president of the organization, said 4 Paws began in 2005 as a foster system for rescued dogs and cats. As its animal occupants grew in numbers, they decided on finding a central location in Lincoln Parish to work from. In 2012, the rescue found a home in Ruston and has been here ever since.


“We started out from just picking up dogs at dumpsters to building a reputation for 4 Paws,” Martin said. “Now we have people who bring animals to us. They know they will be cared for here.”


Martin runs the nonprofit rescue with the help of many volunteers from Louisiana Tech, Ruston High School and the rest of the Ruston community, but 4 Paws enjoys opportunities to give back to the community as well. Martin said they have had instances where the organization has helped the city of Ruston and its people in need.


“We’re more than just an animal rescue; we try to help people too,” she said. “We share our extra animal food and supplies with the public, and we allow people to get their volunteer hours for school organizations and other things. That’s the great thing about it — this relationship with the community — it’s what keeps us going every day.”


Martin said if 4 Paws continues to remain open successfully, she hopes to see great changes in its future, as they plan to work with the city’s animal shelter to house an even larger rescue.


“There is a project called Moving Ruston Forward and part of that program is to build a state of the art shelter,” she said. “It’s been ongoing for a couple of years, but I’m told that ground should be broken at the end of this year.”


Martin hopes for this collaboration with the city shelter as it will not only help 4 Paws continue, but also help more animals in need.


“Our future is kind of in the balance right now,” she said. “We would like to become the main shelter of Ruston and let the city do animal control while we carry on the care, adoptions and other tasks that get the animals ready for new homes.”


Martin said she has always loved her time with 4 Paws even through the difficulties. She believes the time and work is worth it to see the dogs become part of loving families.


“When they do leave healthy and happy it makes the times where I have to make hard decisions a little easier,” Martin said.


Calah Mershon, a manager at 4 Paws, said that doing work for the organization not only benefits the animals, but also the volunteers.


“The people who volunteer with 4 Paws get a sense of accomplishment, and a way to say they gave back to their community,” she said. “If not for us and the other volunteers, these dogs would be out on the street, in the cold, starving to death.”


Mershon, a sophomore animal science major, said 4 Paws is lucky to be part of such a helpful community.


“To our volunteers, your work is always appreciated and without people like you we wouldn’t be able to function,” she said. “It is with our whole heart that we thank you for all you do.”


Chandler Schulz, a volunteer at 4 Paws, said that being involved at the rescue has made him feel like a part of the Ruston community.


“I’ve gained a sense of pride in our community,” he said. “It’s also a way to give back to the people of not only Ruston, but Lincoln Parish as a whole, by taking in dogs and allowing them to find new homes.”


Schulz, a junior history major, said this close connection between 4 Paws and Lincoln Parish is a large part of what keeps the rescue on its feet.


“If we didn’t have the support of the people of Ruston, we wouldn’t have the money or the labor to help take care of our dogs,” he said. “The community is what runs 4 Paws.”


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