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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – At Paws4You, clean and happy dogs are looking forward to meeting their forever families.

Founder Carol Caridad has been rescuing unwanted dogs for 11 years.

“At the same time I was volunteering for other animal rescue organizations and I just saw that there was such an overpopulation issue in Miami-Dade County and the euthanasia number was extremely high,” said Caridad, who is the Executive Director of the nonprofit. “So, I spoke to my family and I said I want to make a difference, we need to help, there needs to be more of us.”

Caridad quit her full-time job in veterinary medical sales and with the support of partners and donors has grown from renting space in a used car lot to acquiring a permanent facility in southwest Miami-Dade.

“We like to call it a retreat because these animals are kept safe from euthanasia and some of them may live their entire lives with us,” she said. “We’ve made a tremendous difference saving close to 8000 dogs. Last year we did over 351 adoptions, this year we are on target to do 400. It’s very rewarding but it’s also very emotional.”

Every dog has a story and some of them are tough to hear, like Bon Jovi’s.

“The dog had been in chronic kidney failure, never showing signs and the dog is under three years old,” said Caridad. “We saved a dog that was in rough shape at a shelter, he was blind and needed ACL surgery he was only six months old and had been hit by a car and has detached retinas.”

Paws4You has a full-time staff and it relies on a steady stream of volunteers who may get more out of this than the dogs do.

“We have cancer patients that are in remission and they want to get some exercise they come here and bond so many people come here and that’s why I like to call it a retreat for a large scale not just for the animals but the healing that we do for people,” said Caridad.

Fundraisers are critical, like the recent Diamonds are Forever gala, as the cost to shelter an average of 100 dogs is expensive, about $50,000 a month. But the satisfaction when a dog goes home with his new family is priceless.

The retreat doubles as a boarding facility which helps support the organization’s mission. A mission that Caridad hopes will be obsolete one day.

“I hope there’s not a need for us because that means we have the pet overpopulation under control,” said Caridad.

Learn more by visiting their website at Paws4You.org.

Eliott Rodriguez

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