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Central California Life Magazine

A Passion for PAWS in Fowler

Jun 26, 2014 03:33PM ● By Cen Cali Life Magazine

A Passion for PAWS in Fowler

by Mike Scott

“I’ve always had a passion for animals.”

That’s how Krystle Rivera begins telling the story of how she started her nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter Fowler PAWS (Precious Animals Worth Saving).  

Rivera works as an accounting technician for the City of Fowler. For many years, when stray animals would be picked up in the area, Rivera grew more and more frustrated watching the city shell out money to euthanize those dogs. Fowler didn’t have any budget for an animal shelter, so strays were simply turned over to the SPCA. “It killed me to know the animals didn’t have a chance,” Rivera said.  

In 2006, Rivera and her mother, Irene Prieto, finally decided it was time to do something.

Rivera convinced the “powers that be” in Fowler to allow her to take responsibility for all strays (mainly dogs) picked up in the city limits.  

Somehow, Rivera scraped together enough money to buy two-and-a-half acres of land along Floral Avenue. She applied for her nonprofit status, and soon Fowler PAWS was up and running. No longer would stray animals in Fowler be put to sleep. They would stay at the no-kill shelter until they found a home.

"The very first dog I rescued, I adopted," Rivera said. "I knew I couldn't find her a home, so that's why I kept her. To this day, Sasha will only kiss me."

The first dog officially adopted out to a family (other than to Rivera) was a pit bull-lab mix named Dodger. "When he left," Rivera said, "he took a piece of my heart with him." 

But eight years into the rescue business and Rivera has developed a thick skin. "I've become a stronger person,” she said. “The feeling is now bittersweet. I'm sad when animals leave, but it's why I'm here, to help them find a life they deserve.”

“We cry when they come in, and we cry when they go out,” Prieto said, describing her family's emotional attachment to every stray that comes through the facility.

The mother-daughter team puts in countless hours every week, caring for the animals they rescue. Rivera’s long hours at the rescue shelter are on top of her 40-hour-a-week job with the city. "It is very exhausting, but it doesn’t stop me," she said. "I am here to give the animals a voice, to give them another chance, and show them what real love is. I could never turn my back on them."

As many as 150 animals are available for adoption at Fowler PAWS at any given time. Every weekend, some of the dogs are taken to the Clovis PetSmart at Herndon and Willow. Volunteers transport the dogs and walk them around the store in search of the perfect human match. Adoption fees range from $100 to $200 ($65 for senior animals), and include license, shots and microchipping.  

Since Fowler PAWS was founded, more than 1,000 animals have been adopted.

Asked if she’s ever had any second thoughts about all this, Prieto said, “I don’t do it because I have to, I do it because I want to. My doggies make me happy.”   

Her daughter feels the same way.

"I've never regretted it. If I wasn't here, thousands of lives would have been lost. That's what keeps me going,” Rivera said. “It is worth every minute." 


Your donations would be greatly appreciated. According to the Fowler PAWS website, key expenses include: gas, toys, snacks, vet bills, pet food, medications, dewormer, roofing, labor for construction projects, cement, pooper scoopers, bowls, dog houses, kennels, fencing, dog pools, grass, trees, fence slats, misters, collars, harnesses, leashes and much more.

The shelter also needs a new van to transport the animals to PetSmart every week, as well as a grant writer to identify and apply for funds available for nonprofits such as Fowler PAWS.

Monetary donations can be mailed to: Fowler PAWS, P.O. Box 601, Fowler, CA 93625

For more information about Fowler PAWS, visit