A Pawsitive Mission

Pet lovers volunteer to help furry friends in need

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It didn’t take long for MARY BETH MOUNT to find her niche after moving to Southport from Alexandria, Virginia in 2013. After retiring from a career in federal law enforcement, Mount served as the deputy director and acting executive director of the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. Later, she served as the director of Caring Hands Animal Support & Education providing low or no-cost spay and neuter services.

Her love of animals steered her to the nonprofit Paws-Ability where she eventually became board vice president in 2020. Among many accountabilities, Mount is responsible for the administration of Stella’s Touch, one of several programs established by Paws-Ability, which she does with relentless passion.

“I’ve always loved animals and have been involved in rescue since the 1980s. Paws-Ability was on my radar before we moved to Brunswick County. Shortly after our arrival, I became a volunteer,” Mount recalls.

Paws-Ability supports spay/neuter programs, provides donated pet food to three local food pantries and Meals on Wheels participants, and supports Trap-Neuter-Return programs for community cats. Stella’s Touch, a program that operates as a program of Paws-Ability, started with a donation from the “fur-parents” of a miniature schnauzer named Stella. The pet lovers wanted to find a way to honor their dog by helping other pet parents facing financial hardship through veterinary care for injury or illness.

“Stella’s owners came to Paws-Ability and asked if we would take on this program. They provided the seed money and continue to donate generously every year. Stella was very important in their lives and they did not want people’s pets to suffer during a family crisis,” Mount said.

A Pawsitive Mission, a program similar to Stella’s Touch, will start in March in New Hanover County. A Pawsitive Mission will provide assistance to pet guardians who are unable to cover veterinary costs in cases of serious illness or injury to their pet and for emergencies. The program which will work directly with veterinarians will help families who have exhausted all other means of financial assistance. Like Stella’s Touch, A Pawsitive Mission is a program under the auspices of Paws-Ability.

“Paws-Ability is a unique organization that fills a gap in animal welfare that I have not seen anywhere else. We are not a rescue, but a fundraising organization that provides assistance to rescues and pet guardians. And we educate on matters related to animal welfare to ensure animals receive the care and respect they deserve as well as to maintain the human-animal bond,” she explained.

Since its inception in 2007, Paws-Ability, which has no paid employees and no physical location, has grown its fundraising and programs. Over 90% of the money raised goes directly to the animals.

Mount is also a volunteer for Chihuahua Rescue & Transport and Mid Atlantic Italian Greyhound Rescue. She and her husband JEFF currently have three cats – Emma, Gremlin, and Joe Cool – and two chihuahuas – Lola and Lilly – all rescues. They have fostered fifteen dogs in their home, adopting three of them, since moving to Southport. Prior to their relocation, the Mounts fostered over twenty cats and three dogs.

Volunteering an average of three to four hours a day, Mount says the best thing about her role with Paws-Ability is knowing she is helping many animals and people in need. “But knowing that we can’t help everyone to the degree that they need is challenging,” she added. A Pawsitive Mission is a step in the right direction.

Paws-Ability, Stella’s Touch, and A Pawsitive Mission are always looking for new members and volunteers. “If you love animals, you’ve found your place!” concluded Mount.

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Categories: Culture