Saving the Pups

Lucky Paws looks to save animals in need

Each year, approximately 1.5 million animals are euthanized in U.S. shelters, according to the ASPCA. While that number may seem astronomically high, it is actually an improvement from 10 years ago. 

Continued public education and active spay/neuter programs have helped facilitate this decline but, more often than not, it’s a rescue organization like Lucky Paws that steps in to remove animals from kill shelters and give them a second chance at the life they deserve.

The group is holding a Pancakes for Pups fundraiser May 11.

“It takes over your life, but you can’t stop. Who else is going to save these dogs?” Juli Upshaw says.

Upshaw is the founder of Lucky Paws, a local nonprofit animal rescue. Lucky Paws formed in March 2011, when Upshaw retired. She had been an active volunteer at the local shelters in California and started doing rescues while working her day job. She’d been naïve, she says, and thought that the shelters didn’t actually kill these animals. 

But she was wrong. 

What Upshaw experienced and saw took her life in a new direction — a path that has led to more than 5,000 animals’ receiving a well-deserved second chance at life, love and family. She works with a core group of around 25 volunteers and another 100 individuals who help when and where they can. 

Lucky Paws’ goal is to change people’s minds when it comes to shelter animals, so they are seen as a potential new family member instead of an animal with “issues.”

Upshaw works to educate on spaying and neutering. “If people would just fix their animals, it would fix this problem,” she says. 

Lucky Paws takes a lot of tough cases, especially medical, and the financial costs can skyrocket, Upshaw says. She has days when she thinks about stopping and passing the torch. Then she thinks about the animals again — like the female German shepherd she rescued in Hollister, California, who had been abandoned at a kill shelter with a softball-sized tumor. 

This particular dog wiggled into Upshaw’s heart, and she used her own funds to cover medical treatment. While the dog was being treated for the tumor, 11 puppies were born unexpectedly. They had been missed on three separate X-rays, likely as Upshaw and her medical team were so focused on treating the cancer. They nursed those puppies by hand and found loving homes for each.

The mother dog found a home as well, and although she passed a year later when the cancer returned, she spent that year surrounded by love in a cushy home.  ν

Pancakes for Pups, a fundraiser for Lucky Paws, is 10 am to 3 pm, May 11, at the Eugene Masonic Lodge, 2777 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Take part in the festivities and dog adoption; $10 for breakfast. Additionally, Lucky Paws runs a Treat Boutique year round to help cover the cost of continued rescues; more info at