Core Paws: Overlooked Not Anymore

 Board members (from left to right) Nicole, Erica, Kara and Kelli at a half day strategy meeting

Board members (from left to right) Nicole, Erica, Kara and Kelli at a half day strategy meeting

When Kara Hamada and her Core Paws team see shelter pets labeled “broken” — due to abuse, illness, crippling injuries, failed adoptions, or just having a grey face — they see beyond the obstacles keeping these pets from loving homes.

"These harder to place animals get overlooked,” says Hamada. “But not today, not by our standards. We're showcasing them on our website to make sure they'll never be overlooked again."

Hamada is founder and executive director of Core Paws, a web-based nonprofit she launched in 2014. The organization partners with nonprofit animal rescues and shelters, showcasing the hardest-to-place animals in one centralized spot.

"As an Oregon rescue group we were honored to be selected to partner with Core Paws," says Marilyn Hall of Cat's Cradle Rescue. "We take in numerous cats and kittens with physical disabilities — from a one-eyed kitten to a senior with arthritis — and all require adopting to a special, understanding home. Core Paws reaches out to the homes (and hearts) in our community that value these physical differences. They fill a niche by promoting the animals because they are special, with unique requirements. To us, each cat is perfect, and Core Paws is a great resource for the ‘special’ adopter."

The Core Paws team of top-notch marketing pros sees the soul beyond the toll of misfortune or abuse. The beleaguered ones who, like most pets, began life as the perfect puppy or kitten in the window.

 Casper: Hard-to-place diabetic senior cat with partner Animal Aid

Casper: Hard-to-place diabetic senior cat with partner Animal Aid

"We use our combined years upon years of digital advertising experience," Hamada says, "Pairing our website with a full digital advertising campaign and more."

Another partner, Kelsi Snook of the Florence Area Humane Society, says, "Being located in a small coastal town makes Core Paws an invaluable asset to us. They share our belief that there is a family out there for every pet. Core Paws helps promote our animals to a larger market of potential adopters, making it easier to find these special-needs pets their perfect forever homes. We look forward to working with Core Paws for many, many years!"

The vision for Core Paws began when Hamada was buying cat food in a pet shop that had two shelter kittens on display. "One, named Abbott, had a serious heart condition requiring daily medication," she says.

 Dodger: Hard-to-place senior dog with partner Florence Humane Society

Dodger: Hard-to-place senior dog with partner Florence Humane Society

Weeks later, Abbott was still there, growing into a young cat. Kara went back to adopt him. But he was gone!” she says. "A family had chosen him that day."

The adoptive couple were both doctors, and their son also had a heart problem. Cost of medicine, no problem. Understanding and being able to meet the cat’s needs, priceless. That day, Core Paws was born.

Leveraging this scenario, Core Paws is "giving a voice to the hidden gems found in many rescues and shelters today,” Hamada says. “We know there is the right fit for every hard-to-place homeless animal, and we are dedicated to helping find that perfect match."

Currently Core Paws partners with 20 organizations in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Nevada, and is striving to be nationwide by the end of 2016.

Among the Oregon partners is Indigo Rescue, founded by Heather Hines. Hines has been especially moved by the tragedy of pets without provision when their elderly owners pass on or go into care that doesn’t accept pets. It's one reason many aging pets are in high-kill shelters.

"Discarding these pets, who have already lost everything they have ever known, is simply unacceptable,” Hines says. “It is out of respect and compassion that our organization is working toward providing an option." 

Partnering with Core Paws means being part of a movement to find forever loving homes for hard-to-place homeless animals just like these.

"We take partnering with a new rescue/shelter very seriously," Hamada says. It starts with a questionnaire assessed by a passionate six-member Core Paws Board committed to finding a good fit.

 Board members Christy and Rachel with their beloved dogs

Board members Christy and Rachel with their beloved dogs

The organization relies on tax-deductible donations, crowd-funding, and the boundless energy of volunteers.

"We love our volunteers!” Hamada exclaims. "Marketing skills are loved, but anyone can help!" To find out how, contact volunteer@corepaws.org

"Each of our animals has a story. And, we are telling it, across the nation."


Christy Caballero writes from her soul about animals and their humans. She and hubby Herb have to compete for space on the couch with three big RagaMuffin cats, two retired racing greyhounds and one slightly neurotic foster greyhound -- who never wants to leave. Ever.