Small Miracles

Small Miracles

by Jennifer Cece & Brian Hawks

Peace4Paws was founded by Jennifer Cece in 2007. At that time, she was studying to be a certified yoga teacher at Juluka Yoga of Hillsdale, New Jersey, and she learned the Yoga Sutras. Among them was a facet called the ahimsa, which advocates kindness for all living creature. Because it is well known that dogs who find themselves in labs are frequently euthanized after their cooperation is no longer needed, it was then that she decided to help “man’s best friend” from all walks of life – including dogs from research
and related fields have the opportunity for placement in a loving forever homes. So, while the original mission was to help retired research beagles find loving homes, over time, southern shelters found out about Peace4Paws and asked if they would rescue abandoned hunting beagles. Without hesitation, Peace4Paws said yes. For years now the rescue mission has been expanded to include all sorts of shelter dogs as well as dogs surrendered by local families. From that moment of inspiration in class hundreds of dogs have found homes in Bergen County as well as various parts of the country.

The rescue process begins when a rescue group/shelter or surrendering owner reaches out to Peace4Paws to help save a dog’s life. The dogs are evaluated as much as possible by the originators. If the dog is being surrendered locally, the owner is sent an extensive owner surrender form. Next, all dogs receive thorough medical evaluation and care. Peace4Paws uses their comprehensive medical protocol designed by Peace4Paws’ medical director Lucille Nardello, who also owns and operates Lewis Drugs in Westwood. So, the dogs are thoroughly vetted, their bios are written and
posted to seventy online rescue sites, including the Peace4Paws website and social media, with the purpose of finding the right match with the potential forever family.

Transport is arranged, vetted foster families are lined up, and vetted adopters are selected as the dog’s forever families. Jennifer says, “We take this very seriously as we are determining where a dog will live out the rest of his or her precious life!”

Jennifer Cece, President Peace4Paws was already using the Pet Lodge for grooming since 2004, so she knew about their work ethic. As the owner of Pet Lodge in River Vale, Jac Ciardella learned about Peace4Paws’ needs, he genuinely wanted to lend a helping hand. Over time, the Pet Lodge team has done an excellent job of caring for dogs that could not immediately be placed in a foster home. Jennifer says, “They treat the dogs like they are their own dogs. They are very concerned about them. They spend time with them and go out of their way to assess the dogs’ emotional, physical, and medical needs and provide for them.”

While the rescues are at Pet Lodge, Jac and his team do more than just provide a temporary home for the dogs. They are in a unique position to give Peace4Paws vital feedback about the temperament, personality, and socialization levels of the dogs, all of which is critical for matching the rescues with the right family. They also allow volunteers to come and walk the dogs while they are in boarding. Pet Lodge even accepts appointments from adopters to meet the dogs.

Peace4Paws + Pet Lodge = Small Miracles

The Pet Lodge is open rain or shine, sleet, or snow. Regardless of the weather or the specifics of a surrender, the Pet Lodge answers the call. In many ways, they are a satellite rescue team for Peace4Paws. Jennifer states, “We are volunteers with regular jobs, so the Pet Lodge has had to step in for us time after time to accept a dog being surrendered by a family when we didn’t have a foster family home readily available. We try to be at the lodge, but when we can’t we totally trust Jac and his team to handle the surrender professionally. The Pet Lodge is the next best thing to a foster home and is
always there to save the day. Jac and his staff are there to comfort both sad dogs and sad families.”

One powerful example was when a foster suddenly decided that a pit bull had to leave her home immediately. The Pet Lodge staff, which has a great deal of empathy for pit bulls, stepped in without hesitation. The Pet Lodge lovingly cared for the dog, all the while routing for his adoption day to happen. Finally, Peace4Paws found an adopter for this pit bull in Washington Township, as he was an amazing fit. Jennifer says, “The Pet
Lodge was sincerely overjoyed, not because they simply needed to empty one of their kennels, but because they truly want to see every dog get a good home. But it’s more than that. For example, they certainly do not need to interrupt their day for our various dog walking volunteers, but they always do!”

Claire, a senior Treeing Walker Coonhound, had visited the Pet Lodge many times during her two-year foster with volunteer Judith Atchison. She looked forward to going to the Pet Lodge, getting her belly rubs there, and awaiting the many dog walkers who would visit while her foster was out of town. (Most dogs get adopted much more quickly, especially now during the Pandemic but Claire was a special case.)

River Vale resident and volunteer Sally Frank has been known to walk dogs from the Pet Lodge and take dogs home for four to five hours—such was the case for a bonded pair of Chihuahuas named Axel and Ozzie. She would take their bedding, toys, etc. and then bring them back. The Pet Lodge would actually carry the crate with all their toys and bones and both dogs in it to and from her car because it was too heavy for her to carry. The Pet Lodge would essentially break down the entire kennel area and set it back up again because their priority was to create the most comfortable environment for
the dogs. “They definitely went out of their way for the Peace4Paws rescue dogs” said Jennifer Cece.

At the Peace4Paws 2019 Benefit Luncheon, the Pet Lodge was recognized as one of Peace4Paws’ sponsors of the year. Jennifer says, “The more I think about what it is like for our dogs to board there, the more I realize what genuine dog lovers and heroes they are.”

To learn about volunteering, fostering, or adopting through Peace4Paws please visit our website and fill out an application. For surrendering a dog from a home or placing retired dogs from a lab/university environment we will be able to find that loving forever home, please contact:  Additional info can be found on Facebook: peace4paws  Instagram: peace4paws_International and Twitter: @peace4paws  Thank you.


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