Willamette is the kind of place where everyone knows your name – and your pets’ names too. Perhaps that’s because so many pets here are celebrities like Johnny Depp, a handsome rogue who steals affection on the street as it if was buried pirate treasure. In fact, Paws Animal Center at Willamette Falls Drive is Willamette’s version of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Among the famous cats that PAC owner Sharon Murphy has rescued and named are huggable George Clooney, corpulent Orson Welles and three-legged Lance Armstrong.
“Celebrities know they’ve arrived when we name a cat after them,” says Murphy. Just ask Ellen DeGeneres who phoned the shelter to confirm that its comical top cat was her namesake. She later sent the shelter a TV so namesake and keepers could watch her show.
And while cats with names like Jennifer Aniston come and go, one thing never changes: The philosophy that all animals should have loving homes, even if it means bottle-feeding and sleepless nights for the many neighborhood volunteers who care for the animals. Recently waiting to be named were a handful of newborn kittens rescued from the West Linn bus barn. They joined the lone survivor of a day-old kitty litter that arrived on Paws door stoop recently. No animal is too sick, small or maligned to be cared for by Murphy. She has nursed wild birdlings and found homes for a shoebox full of foundling pitbulls.
PAC is housed in a small space, but it has an expansive heart. The tale of Lance Armstrong, once left for dead at the side of the road, is typical. Sharon nursed him for four months, fed him with pureed food and a syringe and found him a home. Fully recovered but minus a leg, he paid his caretaking forward by drawing rescuers to his mistress after she fell into a diabetic coma.
All proceeds and donations to PAC help fund animal care and rescues. And Murphy, who has operated the shelter since 1997, will share her animal experiences in a book soon to be published titled What the Bleep Was I Thinking? The opposite end of Willamette’s Main Street has gone to the dogs – literally. Oregon Dogs Inc. opened in 2011 and anchors the southwest corner of 12th and Willamette Falls Drive. The shop contains a doggie daycare, doggie grooming and a doggie boutique.
The operation’s first visitor was neighborhood escape artist Dodger, a burly, renegade of a dog who wandered in while the building was under renovation, licked the new owners, made himself comfortable on the newly-poured concrete floor and er, left a hearty welcome. “Dodger found us and welcomed us home,” says owner Valerie Baker.
Stress reduction, pain mitigation, playtime or simple pampering – all can be found at Oregon Dogs Inc. where the motto is “Our Passion. Your Peace of Mind.”