Houston Animal Rescue Team

Kera Garlaska (left) and her sister, Tara, volunteered at Patsy's Paw-Raiser, representing their rescue, Houston Animal Rescue Team. PHOTO BY CLAIRE GOODMAN

When Patsy McCray opened her small dog boutique three years ago, she knew she wanted her business to be about much more than just selling dog food and supplies: she wanted to positively impact the community. So every year on the anniversary of her opening day, she and her husband, Alex McCray host a fundraising event and invite dog rescues from all over the Greater Houston Area.

On Oct. 20, the McCrays hosted their third annual multiple-rescue fundraising event, “Patsy’s Paw-Raiser.” They invited seven rescues to come out with their adoptable dogs and raise money for their cause and to give their dogs exposure to potential adopters.

Patsy’s Pet Market is a small local business located on Mason Road near Highland Knolls Dr. The McCrays have been Katy residents since moving from Atlanta three years ago. While Patsy’s Pet Market has only been open three years, Patsy herself has worked in the pet business and promoted animal welfare for 22 years. “I've done some very interesting work,” she said, “I worked with some of Michael Vick's dogs from the pit bull fighting ring. I worked on Animal Planet’s ‘Animal Hoarder’ show. And now I do a lot of training and education in the community.”

For the fundraiser, Patsy collected gift-basket donations from several different companies and auctioned them off in a silent auction. Items included airline tickets from United Airlines and gift cards to local restaurants. The event also included a bake sale, and a percentage of every purchase in the store that day went back to the participating rescues. Patsy also hired a band to play live music at the fundraiser.

Wendy McDaniel is a frequent customer at Patsy’s Pet Market. When she heard about the event, she signed on to help out as a volunteer. Said McDaniel: “Patsy is amazing. She does so many things for rescue dogs and cats, and helping here today is the least I could do. 100 percent of the funds from today goes back to the rescues here today.”

The McCrays’ love for animals inspired the Patsy’s Paw-Raiser. When the McCrays first opened Patsy’s Pet Market, they invited Fort Bend County Animal Shelter to join them in their grand-opening. After seeing the amount of money they were able to raise for the charity, they decided to make giving back to the animal-welfare community a regular occurance.

Alex said, “Ever since our opening, we’ve invited rescue groups out to see if they can get some dogs adopted and raise some money for the great work they do.” In addition to the silent auction and bake sale, the McCrays offered a 10 percent discount on all purchases that day. They then asked that customers take half of that discount and give it back to the rescue. “It’s optional,” Alex explained, “But so far everyone has done it. We’ve also had people give back the full 10 percent, and that’s fantastic.”

Alex commended the rescue groups, all of which are 501(c)(3) charities run entirely on donations and facilitated by volunteers, for the work they do in the Greater Houston Area. “These rescues do so much more than just spay, neuter and vaccinate these animals. I think sometimes people don’t realize that (the groups) supply expensive medical care to a lot of these dogs. Some dogs come to them severely injured or neglected, and they need money for that. And all that is in addition to finding these dogs a home,” he said.

As small business owners, the McCrays feel a strong sense of commitment to giving back to Katy. “Giving back to the community feels great no matter how you do it. Katy is a community that really believes in small businesses like ours, and we just feel it's important to turn around and do something for Katy.”

Dachshund Rescue of Houston volunteer Robin Bayes attended the event with Marco, a dachshund available for adoption. Dachshund Rescue of Houston has attended Patsy’s Paw-Raiser in previous years. The rescue sold their Astros-themed dachshund shirts outside Patsy’s store and promoted their rescue. “We love Patsy. She always invites us to come out to these events and talk about what we do and hopefully find a home for our dogs,” Bayes said.

Cynthia Garlaska  is a volunteer with Houston Animal Rescue Team. She promoted her rescue and brought along her daughters, Kera and Tara to help out. The girls handed out fliers to visitors and shared their love for the animals their rescue helps. Kera said, “I like being here today. I hope very much that the dogs get adopted. I love all the puppies. I love being able to help them find homes.”

The event brought in $4,000 for the rescues. Patsy was touched by the generosity of the community. “We had kids come show up with a few quarters, and we had a very generous donation of $1,000 and everything in between, and it all means so much to us,” she said, “And we want to bring awareness to the plight of homeless pets in Houston. That’s our goal.”

Patsy added, “As a pet lover, helping dogs is great. As a business owner, helping the community is even better. As a member of the community, I feel like it’s my mission to strengthen the human-animal connection for Katy residents.”