There are animal rescues and then there are animal rescues. Eldad and Audrey Hagar, who together make up HopeForPaws.org, are specialists in what I call “extreme” animal rescue. They don’t just pick up animals in danger of euthanasia from shelters, although they do that, too. They physically go out — day or night, rain or shine, to good and dangerous neighborhoods, rivers, deserts, anywhere within four hours of Los Angeles — to save desperate, vulnerable animals. They use cheeseburgers, snares, traps, corrals, reason, trickery and more patience than you could shake a stick at; whatever it takes to get injured, homeless, feral, abused and abandoned dog, cats, and other animals off the streets, out of danger, into their car, off to the vet and into foster or ideally ‘forever home’ placements.
Mom Checks ‘Em Out ; )
Mom visited the Hagars and their pack at their home in West Los Angeles Thursday evening. She was greeted at the door by Eldad, a tall, fit 35-year-old ex-Israeli army commander, and four happy white dogs. Mom walked around the house, met the dogs and cats, and eventually sat at Eldad’s computer, dog in lap, to watch a video he was editing of a recent rescue.
She proceeded to watch a heart-wrenching video of the most pathetic dog she’d ever seen, a little filthy gray matted dog snuggled into a pile of trash. As the camera got closer, Mom could see the dog was blind. They picked up the dog and she was so frightened she peed. They took her to the car where she peed again in Audry’s arms, and finally into their home, where confronted with the friendly dog pack, she peed again. How this little blind dog had survived like that was difficult to imagine.
After Mom’s fourth or fifth “Oh… my… God..,” Eldad said, “You know that’s Fiona, right?” Fiona. One of the happy white dogs Mom met when she came in, who was sitting next to her with her head in Mom’s hand, the sweetest dog in the world. Still a little scrappy looking, especially with her obviously blind eyes, but she had a clean shave and was pure white, not dingy gray. Love poured out of this dog directly into Mom’s heart. We’ll do a story all about Fiona, once she’s received surgery to restore sight in one eye (the other eye is irreparable).
Each of the dogs Mom met had their own unique story, most with videos on Eldad’s Hope for Paws YouTube channel documenting their rescue.
Eldad’s wife Audrey came out to meet Mom. Audrey had not been feeling well, but as soon as they got to talking about animals and the rescues, she came right to life, and like her husband, made Mom feel instantly comfortable. That is part of the reason behind their success with otherwise frightened, hurt, aggressive animals. The Hagars are attentive, playful and loving, which is what you feel when you walk into their home. On the other hand, they are passionate about their commitment to animals and they take no prisoners. With them, it’s saving every animal humanly possible or bust!
The best way to fully understand the scope of commitment the Hagars have to animals is to watch their videos. They’ve been rescuing dogs, cats, birds, squirrels, possums, etc., in this manner for about nine years. Previously, they’d volunteered with different shelters and had been involved in helping animals in various ways. About a year and a half ago, a friend suggested that they videotape the rescues to show people what they do. They did, and they now have a large following of fans on YouTube and on their Facebook page, all eagerly awaiting the next rescue video. Hope for Paws has more than 90 videos online presently.
Chase (left) sat on Mom’s lap most of the evening. Turns out she’s a pretty famous little doggy. Following is a link to a YouTube video of when Eldad pulled her from the pound, the day she was to be euthanized, deemed “too vicious to be adopted.” Chase’s video has almost 70,000 hits!
Eldad would like to see people in every city doing what he’s doing and hopes his videos will encourage other rescuers. He also hopes that the videos will make Los Angeles residents aware that they can contact Help for Paws if they see an injured, homeless or otherwise needy animal – hopefully before it’s too late.
He and Audry feel the best thing people can do to help animals right now is to foster them. There are thousands of homeless animals on any given day in Los Angeles alone. They could go out right now and rescue 100 of them a night, but they have nowhere to take them, so they take the ones they can and feed others in areas know for large amounts of strays, until they have somewhere for them to go.
Leila was Eldad’s first rescue recorded on video. Mom’s not sure she would have touched this doggy, even with a 10-foot pole! Watch this amazing video to see Leila transformed from a vicious, scary, frightened dog to the angelic doggy dog she really is when shown just a tiny bit of kindness.
Hope for Paws has rescued at least 1500 animals. They fund their efforts with their own money, from their computer business and their real estate property management company, both of which allow them to work at their own pace, enabling their rescue efforts. They also receive private donations and last year won a contest from Chase Bank Community Giving, in which Hope for Paws was awarded $25,000 as part of a Facebook charity voting competition. This money was quickly spent on surgeries and medical care for their rescues.
When Hope for Paws rescues an animal, they take responsibility for it. They clean and groom it and give it tons of love, then it goes to the vet for whatever medical care it needs, often adding up to thousands of dollars in surgeries so they can live pain-free lives, after all they’ve been through. They are neutered or spayed and microchipped and then fostered until they can find a ‘forever home,’ or sometimes they move on to another foster or rescue.
Our Lives Have Gone to the Dogs
Another source of revenue for Hope for Paws is their book, “Our Lives Have Gone to the Dogs.” Anyone who loves animals will love this book. A donor generously paid for the printing, so all the profits go directly to rescue and rehabilitation efforts. A new edition is about to be released, with some new stories.
Those who purchased the previous version will receive a label imprinted with the address of a children’s hospital. Hope for Paws is requesting that the old books are put back in the envelope in which they were received and mailed to a children’s hospital, where they’ll be put to good use entertaining and educating children and their families. Eldad and Audrey also bring dogs to schools and children’s hospitals, where Audrey reads their book aloud while Eldad monitors the children playing with the dogs.
Hope for Paws is The Anipal Times’ current charity, and it’s an honor to be involved with this great organization. Please look them up on YouTube, follow them on Twitter and on Facebook, consider buying their book, and if you live in Los Angeles, keep their email address handy in case you come across an animal in distress. If you do, tell them Cokie sent you!
Eldad, Audrey and some of their pack will be stopping by The Anipal Times’ Holiday Office Pawty today on Twitter (#ATPawty).
Hope for Paws is a 501-c-3 nonprofit corporation. All donations go directly to animal rescue and rehabilitation.