Founder Kris Jordan is recognized for her leadership
By Dave Gorgon
A nonprofit animal clinic with roots in Riverview is being celebrated for surpassing 70,000 spay and neuter procedures in its 10 years of operation.
The PAWS Clinic, located at 21210 Goddard Road in Taylor, has been in business since September 2011 and is still going strong. The agency recently expanded its offerings by launching an animal vaccine clinic after hearing from many clients who were having difficulty scheduling appointments for vaccines and basic wellness services at their regular veterinarians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The PAWS Clinic is a very well-run facility,” said Riverview resident Eve Howell. “It may be low-cost, but it doesn’t spare any service for the cats or dogs. They are skilled and loving individuals who work there. I’ve taken many of my family pets to get spay and neutered. I’ve also volunteered several times and have been witness to the loving and professional manner they treat their patients.”
In the Beginning
PAWS’ origins date back to 2007. Kris Jordan of Riverview was a founding member and board member of PAWS of Michigan, a Riverview-based rescue organization for dogs and cats. That organization placed more than 2,500 homeless dogs and cats into loving homes.
Jordan said she was simply an “animal lover” who was passionate about looking out for the welfare of pets.
“My parents loved animals and I was always raised with animals,” she said. “Not having an animal doesn’t seem like a possible thing for me. I have two dogs, four cats and a turtle.”
While volunteering for PAWS of Michigan, Jordan and a small group of volunteers realized there was a real need in the Downriver area for low-cost spay and neuter services. They organized and ran monthly shuttles, using their personal vehicles to transport animals to low-cost clinics in Toledo and Warren.
Recognizing that the shuttles were not making the impact needed to decrease the number of animals admitted to shelters, they decided to open a low-cost, high-quality non profit spay/neuter clinic in the Downriver area.
Volunteers attended a conference sponsored by PetSmart Charities and worked toward opening their own affordable spay/neuter clinic. They applied to the Human Alliance organization Asheville, North Carolina (now ASPCA Spay/Neuter Alliance) and were accepted into the group’s mentorship program.
“Our founding members realized that, while finding homes for homeless animals was a very worthwhile endeavor, it did nothing to address the problem of why animals were homeless in the first place,” Jordan said. “Many of these members volunteered at a local shelter prior to forming PAWS and saw first-hand the enormity of the overpopulation crisis and the tragedy of having to euthanize healthy adoptable animals simply because there are not enough homes.”
After 2½ years of fundraising and grant writing ensued. The effort included an intense, but successful, effort to win $50,000 in the Pepsi Refresh Project in 2010. The PAWS Clinic was launched in September 2011 in Taylor, where it remains today.
In 2017, the clinic completed a major expansion, which allowed the facility to meet an increasing demand for services. The clinic now occupies 5,000 square feet of space and has 17 employees and six volunteers.
Jordan is considered the “driving force” behind the clinic. She worked tirelessly on the building and remains active in daily operations.
People close to the clinic said Jordan brings a wealth of experience to PAWS from her prior career in administrative and human resource positions. She is the chief grant writer for the clinic and has secured nearly $300,000 in funding for the clinic since its inception. She also assists in making appointments, helping with the care of animals and cleaning.
Most of the grants have been utilized to further subsidize the surgery cost for pet owners and feral cat caretakers. The grant funding and the low-cost spay and neuter service have resulted in allowing many more pet owners to have their pets sterilized at a price they can afford.
“When I hear ‘somebody should do something,’ it really bothers me,” said Jordan, who credits her knowledge to “years of having my own animals,” fostering animals through PAWS of Michigan and “working shoulder to shoulder with veterinarian professionals for 10 years… It’s osmosis.”
In PAWS’ “heyday,” Jordan said, staff averaged about 250 spay and neuter surgeries a week. Nowadays, mainly due to COVID, the clinic sees about 75 pets a week for surgery and about 40 pets weekly for vaccines, she said.
“I expect to get back to the heyday soon,” she said.
The 70,000 spayed and neutered animals and other efforts in favor of pets “makes me feel really proud,” Jordan said. “This started as a vision – as a dream – of a small group of us that really believed in spaying and neutering and didn’t know what we were doing when we started.”
“People appreciate what we do and we are getting a ton of positive reviews on Facebook and Google. They’re glad we’re there and are making spaying and neutering accessible.”
Jordan added: “I can’t say enough good things about our staff. We are a nonprofit, so we don’t pay as much as they might make working for a for-profit business. Each one works long physical hours. Our finance model is completely different from a for-profit. I can’t say enough about our doctors and support staff.”
When an employee is hired, PAWS officials look for people who have the same vision: “We don’t want to hire people who are just looking for a job or love animals,” Jordan said. “We want people who believe in our mission.”
“Everybody should spay and neuter their pets, even if they don’t come to us,” she said. “It’s important for controlling the animal population, but also disease; certain types of cancer. It’s good for curbing behaviors that cause people to turn their animals into shelters, like cats going into heat or male cats spraying.”
Praise for Riverview
Jordan said she appreciates the support PAWS has received from the city of Riverview and its officials, including former Mayor Tim Durand, who serves as president of the Board of Directors and “was a huge advocate of PAWS of Michigan from the beginning.”
“We were regularly invited to bring adoptable animals to City Council meetings and, for several years, our major Paws in the Park fundraiser was held at Young Patriots Park in Riverview with Tim and Riverview council members serving as contest judges. Tim has been on The PAWS Clinic board since our inception and is in his second year as board president.”
Durand, one of PAWS’ biggest promoters and supporters, says there’s plenty to like about the clinic.
“I’m amazed every day at the dedication and care the entire crew provides to our four-legged friends,” he said.
Jordan, a native of Chicago, said Riverview, its city officials and its residents include plenty of responsible pet owners.
“I love Riverview, I really do,” she said. “I didn’t grow up here. I married into the Downriver area. When I’m driving home, I enjoy passing by the Memorial Day flags at Young Patriots Park and the involvement of the citizens in the community. Our leadership is great. I feel safe here. I feel part of the community. I’ve been here 35 years now. I really adore it.”
Praise for PAWS
The significance of PAWS to pets in the region is noticed. Wayne County Commissioner Raymond Basham recently presented a proclamation from the commission to Jordan and Chrissy Romano, the clinic’s director of operations.
“It is with great admiration that the Wayne County Commission recognizes The PAWS Clinic of the city of Taylor for 11 years of dedicated service to improving the lives of animals in the Downriver area,” the proclamation begins.
It goes on to recognize the clinic’s mission of decreasing animal homelessness and needless euthanasia, plus the fact that the nonprofit success in performing tens of thousands of spay and neuter surgeries since incorporating as a nonprofit organization.
The Board of Directors of the clinic also nominated Jordan for an “unsung hero” award in the Women of Achievement recognition sponsored by the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber.
“Kris’ dedication to our four-legged friends is evident in her commitment to the clinic,” the nomination states. “She generally works 40 hours a week and she has worked without compensation since the inception of the clinic. The board of directors has looked for ways to reward her, but she refuses compensation and says she is rewarded every day she can make a difference in the world of pets. Kris does not look for praise, thanks or acknowledgement.”
The Latest Services
Although The PAWS Clinic’s mission and primary focus remains on providing affordable spay and neuter services for dogs and cats, the group has launched an animal vaccine clinic to meet the needs of many people, including those who brought new pets into their homes during the pandemic.
“Keeping pets up-to-date on vaccines is an important step in keeping a furry family member healthy, as vaccines provide protection against common serious, and sometimes fatal, diseases in dogs and cats,” Jordan said. “The PAWS Clinic offers rabies, distemper, Bordetella and leptospirosis vaccines for dogs and rabies and distemper vaccines for cats.
“Heartworm testing/preventiON is also available at the clinic. Heartworm is spread by infected mosquitoes and is common in our area. Fortunately, this serious disease is easily avoided with a monthly dose of heartworm preventative. The PAWS Clinic urges owners of every dog over six months of age to make sure their dog has his or her annual heartworm test. Both puppies and adult dogs should be taking regular heartworm preventative.”
In addition, Jordan said, pet owners can purchase flea and tick prevention, have an intestinal parasite check done on their pets and purchase deworming medication at PAWS’ weekly vaccine clinics. Microchips are also available for dogs and cats.
Appointments are required. Interested pet owners can call PAWS at (313) 451-8200 to set up an appointment for the following week. Further information on scheduling an appointment can be found on the website www.thepawsclinic.com.