Paws of Hope, Pizza Transit team up to find homes for animals

NILES — Imagine finding your new best friend the next time you reach for a slice of pizza. You go to open the box and find a photo of the dog or cat you never knew would be the perfect addition to your household staring back at you.

That is precisely what pet rescue Paws of Hope, of Stevensville, and Pizza Transit, of Niles, have paired up to make happen.

After seeing a successful campaign of pairing pizza boxes and fliers featuring adoptable pets on the east coast, Heather Knuth Rudlaff, of Paws of Hope, thought that it would make sense in the southwestern Michigan area as well. She also saw another rescue work with a pizza restaurant in South Bend.

“I simply reached out to Sarah Brittin [owner of Pizza Transit in Niles], and she quickly and emphatically said, ‘yes,’” Rudlaff said.

Paws of Hope has put together profiles of their adoptable pets on fliers. The fliers include two profiles with the pets’ ages, names, personality traits and adoption fees. The fliers are going out on pizza boxes as orders for carry-out and delivery flow from Pizza Transit’s doors.

The rescue is a nonprofit that relies on volunteers and donations throughout the year.

“With a limited budget, we try to be creative with advertising our adoptable pets. Facebook is a great tool, but teaming up with Pizza Transit will be a valuable tool to introduce Paws of Hope to the Niles area,” Rudlaff said.

As the mandates are not conducive to in-person interaction at this time, Paws of Hope is accepting applications online. From there, they allow foster families to determine how to proceed with “meet and greets.”

“We are allowing home visits to be done electronically to comply with current COVID-19 recommendations of social distancing, and for potential adopters that are from out of the area,” Rudlaff said.

Pets in need have likely been getting their profiles viewed much more lately, as Pizza Transit has stayed busy amid state mandates restricting dining to carry out and delivery only.

Fortunately, Pizza Transit’s business was already built to be reliant on the carry-out and delivery model. They have kept busy during the heavy mandates on restaurants in response to the COVID-19 virus, even experiencing order volumes that called for a pause in ordering over the weekend.

“Our customers have been hugely supportive, knowing that we could be forced to close in the future. On Saturday, we had so many orders that we did have to close for an hour to catch up,” Brittin said. “Luckily, we’ve made it through the first week of this without having to cut any hours.”

While no adoption connections were reported as of Friday, Paws of Hope is excited by the prospects that may come from their partnership with fellow pet lover Brittin.

“We will be partner with Pizza Transit as long as they are willing,” Rudlaff said.