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02.19.2024

Tooth Fairy Fund: Help PAWS DOUBLE the Number Lifesaving Dental Surgeries We Can Offer


While a healthy mouth may not be top of mind when considering the challenges cats and dogs face in a shelter, dental disease poses a significant threat to these already vulnerable animals. Often, the barrier between life and death for these animals is a rescue organization’s ability to afford costly dental surgery, and thousands of animals are euthanized every year due to a lack of this resource. That’s why PAWS, the city’s largest rescue partner and provider of affordable veterinary care, is committed to addressing this issue for Philadelphia’s at-risk pets.

For the past three years, PAWS has made lifesaving dental surgery a priority. With a growing medical team that can perform dental surgery in-house and the establishment of the Tooth Fairy Fund, a fundraising initiative that ensures PAWS has the resources needed, PAWS’ capacity for dental surgery has grown, year over year.

This year, PAWS aims to again double the number of dental surgeries it can offer to homeless cats and dogs, to save even more lives that hang in the balance. To do so, it has an ambitious goal: to raise $90,000 in February, which, fittingly, is National Pet Dental Health Month. Supporters have an extra reason to give: three anonymous donors have banded together to generously match all donations to the Tooth Fairy Fund, up to $45,000. So each gift will go twice as far, and could ensure that PAWS’ dental program is fully funded for 2024.

As Philadelphia moves closer toward becoming a no-kill city, PAWS continues to focus on rescuing animals who are unlikely to be saved otherwise. Nearly 90% of cats and dogs will experience dental disease in their life, and countless stray and surrendered pets enter shelters every year burdened by painful dental disease such as advanced decay, fractured teeth, and stomatitis. Only dental surgery, which can be difficult to find and is often expensive, can give them a chance to live full, happy lives. With so many suffering from dental disease and in the spirit of National Pet Dental Health Month, PAWS encourages animal lovers across the region to support the Tooth Fairy Fund.

Dogs like Ina (above), a petite 10-year-old mixed breed, have been lucky enough to find care at PAWS through the Tooth Fairy Fund. Ina arrived at PAWS, anxious and in pain after her owner experienced health complications and could no longer care for her. Not only did Ina need a new home, but PAWS’ medical team discovered she was in dire need of dental surgery. The Tooth Fairy Fund enabled PAWS to provide it to Ina, who made a full recovery and was adopted. Ina is now ready to enjoy her golden years, healthy, pain-free, and surrounded by love again.

Animals like Charlie McMuffin (above), a sweet and gentle senior cat, have the Tooth Fairy Fund to thank for saving their lives as well. Charlie was found wandering outside in the cold with severe dental disease. His mouth pain was so intense that even under PAWS’ care he couldn’t eat, which put his health in an even more precarious position. Thanks to the Tooth Fairy Fund, PAWS had the funds needed to give Charlie the dental surgery he so desperately needed. He recovered beautifully in a caring foster home, and just recently joined a family of his own!

“I am a huge fan of PAWS’ efforts to treat so many animals who are looking for homes and deserve quality healthcare,” says Dr. Karyn Leibovitz, a veterinarian at PAWS who specializes in dental surgery. Dr. Leibovitz continues, “Pets can live 3-5 years longer if they do not have dental disease. My hope is that with more education about dental disease, the more it will be treated, the more affordable it will become, and the more lives we can save.”

To support PAWS’ Tooth Fairy Fund and help save the lives of cats and dogs at-risk of euthanasia, please visit www.phillypaws.org/dental.