|Wildlife veterinarian Jennifer Conrad uses art to express the joy of animals. She also uses it—as well as captivating photos of animals—on a series of lens cleaning cloths to help raise money for her pet project: The Paw Project, a charity designed to increase public awareness of the effects of feline declawing. The organization also works to abolish the practice of declaw surgery and rehabilitates big cats such as lions, tigers, cougars, leopards and jaguars, that have been declawed as a result of being kept as pets. |
So why cleaning cloths? “People just love them,” says Dr. Conrad. “There’s something about them; people think they can indulge themselves. They’re like little tapestries. Plus it raises people’s consciousness without cramming the message down their throat.”
The cloths wholesale for $2.50 each and retail for $5.99 with 25 cents going to the Paw Project. (The organization also sells greeting cards to raise funds, a project the vet spearheaded with wildlife photographer Michelle Miller.)
Dr. Conrad founded the Paw Project in 1999 soon after her work at a sanctuary made her aware of the problem. “They had 130 big cats and 40 were declawed,” she explains. “They just hobbled around. Some of the mountain lions were actually walking on their elbows.” After one of the cats died, she dissected his paws and discovered the animal did not suffer from arthritis as she had suspected but had nails growing in his skin from being declawed. Afterwards she decided to perform surgery on one of the lions to see if she could help him. “He was under for five hours but when we woke him, he stood right up.”
In addition to her work with big cats, Dr. Conrad has traveled to Namibia to de-horn rhinos, making them unattractive targets for slaughter by poachers who prize the horns for ornamental uses and has treated endangered Asian elephants in Nepal.
Those interested in ordering the cloths can log onto www.lalacards.com or www.pawproject.com or call (877) 729-7765. —JM