AJ’s Pizza hosts Paws on the Patio

Clara Marshall and Jeremy Roberts sit with foster puppy Thalia and Purple Paws alumna Lily. (Benjamin Voller | Collegian Media Group)

“Pico!” an owner yelled after her black lab as he dragged an outdoor table across the patio. The lab bounded over to a foster puppy sitting shyly at her foster mom’s feet and eagerly wagged his tail. Attendees of Purple Power Animal Welfare Society’s Paws on the Patio had the opportunity to meet foster dogs, chow down on pizza and enter raffles. 

Attendees Katelyn Bailey, graduate student in the grain science and pet food program under Dr. Aldrich, said she was fond of Purple PAWS.

“I like Purple PAWS because they take the dogs that are up for death row,” Bailey said. “This is all run by volunteers as well.”

Clara Marshall, a foster parent for the organization, said Purple PAWS rescues dogs sitting in kill shelters as far away as Oklahoma. These dogs are placed in local foster homes and put up for adoption. Paws on the Patio gives the community an opportunity to meet dogs and potentially adopt a new furry friend.

“It’s been really fun,” Bailey said. “They have a gift bag that they give away full of goodies. You also can see all the foster dogs. You get to meet them, and people know them from the Instagram or Facebook.”

Bailey and her peers in the grain science and pet food program are working towards donating pet treats and food baked in their labs to local Manhattan shelters, one of them potentially being Purple PAWS. 

“We’re definitely looking to get into giving away treats,” Bailey said. “Dr. Aldrich is very passionate about being able to give back to animals in general. That’s what we do. That’s why we’re studying what we’re studying.”

Students and community members attended the event for different reasons. Some were there to potentially adopt, some to socialize their dogs and others to satisfy their need to pet puppies.

Callie Dunn, graduate student in the grain science and pet food program, said she found her career path through her fondness for pets. 

“I have always loved companion animals,” Dunn said. “I wanted to go into veterinary [medicine] and realized that wasn’t my passion, but figured out a way that I could still help them through the world of pet food.” 

Students weren’t the only dog enthusiasts in attendance. 

“This is an opportunity for these dogs to meet people who may or may not be potential adopters, and meet other foster dogs,” Marshall said. “It’s really good experience for them in a controlled environment.” 

Marshall has fostered dogs since before she moved to Manhattan six months ago. She found Purple PAWS and has fostered through them since.

“I wanted to foster and I was looking at the different options online,” Marshall said in reference to Purple PAWS. “One of the things that is really cool is that they provide all the supplies that you need — all the food, all the treats, all the leashes, everything the fosters need.” 

While it’s no small task, Marshall encourages students to look into the foster program. She said Purple PAWS tries to make fostering dogs as easy and affordable as possible.

“I work from home and I have time,” Marshall said. “A lot of students have flexible schedules that would allow them to either check up on a dog or spend a lot of time with a dog, which is really the most important thing in getting these dogs back on track and ready to be adopted.”

However, college life can also be busy and unpredictable, which may not be conducive to caring for an animal. If you’re still looking for ways to get involved, Marshall said Purple PAWS is seeking volunteers.

“Even if you can’t foster, we also have volunteers,” Marshall said. “One of the things they do is come out to events and help handle some of the dogs, or handle the raffle baskets.” 

To find out more about events like Paws on the Patio, the fostering program or other volunteer opportunities, visit purple-paws.org.