Kristina (better known by her friends as Kristi), is the heart and soul of Street Paws. She is the founder and the foundation. Without her passion and love for the displaced animals on the streets, there would be no Street Paws. I recently asked her if we might be able to start featuring the volunteers of Street Paws with our followers. I told her I wanted to start at the top, with her. She relented and proceeded to write an awesome bio for me to share with all of you. In it, you will read where her inspiration comes from and how her passion for helping homeless animals began. Please read and relish. Be thankful there are people out there like Kristi, though most are not as committed, who help the unfortunate souls who find themselves without a warm bed to call their own every night. Without a doubt, the world is a better place because of this compassionate individual! ~ Nancy
“I am married with 3 kids ages 24, 26 and 27. I work full time and run Street Paws including feeding 28 cats and we caught all the feral dogs that are left.
I have always had a passion for animals since a young age. I grew up with many cats and dogs in our family and as soon as I had my own place I adopted my first cats Diamond, Whiskers, Tinker and Baby Kitty. When I bought my first house I got my dog Bailey. They have all passed on to the Rainbow Bridge and I now have a new family of pets including the famous Rio!
When I was about 17 or 18 years old I went to the county dump in Cataula, GA (Harris County-where I lived) with my boyfriend Doyle Ledbetter to drop off some trash. This was a very country area and we did not have an animal control. The only option was to call the Sheriff to shoot a dog that was a problem. While at the dump I saw a litter of puppies that were deformed. I did not have any resources to help them back then or the knowledge of how to help them other than to feed them. My boyfriend was driving my truck back to town (Columbus, GA) and I told him to stop at the feed store so I could buy some food. He drove past the feed store. Of course, I was pretty angry at this point. He realized about halfway back to town that I was very serious. He asked me if I planned to break up with him when I got into town. I told him yes! He turned my truck around and went back to the feed store. I then went back to the dump and left a large bag of food on the ground for them. I went by and dropped off a bag weekly until I never saw them again. I vowed that day that I would help animals one day somehow. I planned to start a shelter in Harris County. I even told my Mom that if anything ever happened to me I wanted my measly life insurance from my job to go towards a shelter in that county.
I ended up moving to Atlanta. When I started working in the Pratt & Whitney building for UPS in a very bad neighborhood I came across many dogs in an area where homeless people lived and trash was dumped. I found several dogs, many of them pits and bait dogs, some of them I was able to get into rescue but there was a Great Dane that I found that I thought was dead but when I got up close it was still alive. I have never seen a dog in such bad shape. It was skin and bones only and had maggots all over it. I will never forget that day. It still brings me to tears thinking about it. I called Animal Control and stayed there with him until they could come get him. I am sure they had to put him to sleep but they told me the vet at Fulton County would examine him and see if they could help him. I think over 2 years I helped 50 dogs into rescue or homes. My own 2 personal dogs Emma and Pup came from this area. They were in the woods living next to a homeless man. Emma had made a nest under a large tree that had fallen and had a mattress thrown over it. She pulled the stuffing out to keep Pup warm. My last year at UPS I came across a few pits and pit mixes that I became very attached to. I fed them in the parking lot while I called every rescue I could find and begged them to take them in. I finally found rescue for them and then soon after I left my job at UPS. I did receive calls from time to time to help others there.
When my daughter was 14 she had a project for Ag Science and we chose to work with animals. Right before the project I had filled out volunteer paperwork to help out at Noah’s Ark because I wanted to work with horses again but we decided at the last minute to contact our local Humane Society to help. We started out doing Petsmart adoptions and then eventually worked the shelter. We gained valuable knowlede while doing this from 2006-2012 that made it possible to start Street Paws.
After leaving the Humane Society 6 years later I came across Rio in a parking lot and knew I had to help dogs like him. I started coming across more and more animals in need during that journey such as the Pack and Buff kitty. I realized a need for these neglected animals that live in an in between world. I felt I was meant to see the unwanted that no one else noticed. I felt this was truly the path in life I was supposed to take. A diagnosis of cardiomyopathy in 2009 for myself and the successful rescue of Rio made me realize I needed to do more. I wanted to leave a legacy. I wanted to make a difference before I died. Helping animals and finally having a shelter/sanctuary is the main thing on my bucket list. I truly believe helping at the street level will in turn reduce the overpopulation that has gotten out of control and sadly leads to an unnecessary death for these animals. I felt like what I had previously been doing was only a band-aid to the bigger problem. That was the day the idea of Street Paws started to form.
Street Paws formally became a 501(c)3 on December 13, 2012 and has been slowly growing since. I however could not do this alone, we have an amazing team of volunteers past and present, that make Street Paws what it is and continues to be!