Our Cause

We believe that every dog and cat, no matter their age, medical need, or behavioral issue, deserves a loving forever home. These hard-to-place animals tend to be overlooked in shelters and rescues across the country, and that’s why we started Core Paws. We provide a free service to 501c3 shelters, rescues, and municipal shelters – to showcase these animals on one central website.

Core Paws is a non-profit organization that advocates for the underdog. We rejoice and stand up for senior animals. We think second-and third-chance animals simply haven’t found the right family yet. These animals need extra love — and will give it back a thousand times over. We know that if potential adopters knew about these special animals, they would welcome them into their homes.

For rescues and shelters, partnering with Core Paws means you are bringing your hard-to-place animals into the spotlight, in the hope of finding their perfect forever homes.

For volunteers, Core Paws allows you to feel a part of this movement, whether it’s helping us spread stories of our animals through your social media, or visiting our partner rescues and shelters on our behalf.

For supporters of our cause, your involvement makes the difference for every animal who has not had it easy, and who deserves a loving family.

And for adopters, it’s a happy tail wag from a 12-year old dog who had lost his owner. It’s a purr from a cat who was diagnosed with congenital heart disease and requires medication for the rest of her life. It’s a trusting approach from an animal who used to fear the world.

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Meet The Team

Kara Hamada

Kara Hamada, Founder & Executive Director

“I believe that all animals deserve unconditional love, no matter their age, special need or behavior issue. The right family is out there for every animal, and I pledge my skills to help find them.”

Although her career is in Digital Marketing, Kara has a passion for animal rescue. She has been volunteering with animal shelters since 2011. In a chance encounter, Kara met an adoptable kitten, Abbott, who was continually overlooked for his heart issues and special medication needs. In the end, he was adopted by a couple whose son also had the same heart issues. It was in that moment, that Kara knew the right family was out there for every animal, even the hardest to adopt cases. They were just a bit harder to find. She created Core Paws to address this need and to bring awareness of hard-to-place animals in rescues and shelters everywhere. Her love for all animals keeps her happily motivated to help as many homeless animals as she can. Her rescue cat, Mitzi, is a daily inspiration.

Kelli Olson

Kelli Olson, Board Director

"I believe every animal deserves a forever home. You never know the meaning of unconditional love until you adopt an animal, especially one with a special need. Just like people, no animal is perfect, but they all deserve a chance to shine."

Kelli is a licensed attorney with experience in corporate law and intellectual property. Kelli is originally from Montana and grew up surrounded by animals. At an early age, she started training and showing both horses and dogs and her love for animals only grew. Today, she is the proud owner of two canine kids, one with special medical needs and the other with special behavioral needs, and she could not imagine life without either. She is a true believer that every animal deserves a forever home.

Appu Chalamalachetty

Appu Chalamalachetty, Board President

“I believe that every animal, regardless of age, special needs or special behavior, deserves a home in which they are accepted, loved and cherished. Animals bring so much love and joy into this world and I want to help spread that love and joy by bringing together animals and their humans around the world.”

Appu is a financial and business analyst with a background in accounting and information systems. Appu discovered her love for animals after adopting two puppies, an English bulldog and an English bulldog/Pitbull/Boston terrier mix. They have opened her heart to so much love and empathy that she cannot imagine a life without animals in it. She loves the bond that she shares with her dogs and hopes to help other people develop the same bond and connection with animals. She is a firm believer that animals bring joy to every aspect of life and is dedicated to helping end homelessness for animals.

Dawn Wensel

Dawn Wensel, Vice President

“I believe that there is a special, loving home out there for every animal."

Dawn is the Director of Development and Communications at Maybelle Center for Community, a nonprofit in Portland building community and connections for those living in social isolation. Though her parents never let their daughters have many pets, except for some hamsters, Dawn is looking to make up for it by getting a dog of her own soon with her husband. While looking to find the perfect addition to her family, she encountered first-hand the challenges one can face when looking to adopt an animal. She is excited to use her skills and talents in ensuring hard-to-place animals find their forever homes.

Julie Honse

Julie Honse, Advisory Board Chair

“I believe that in this nation of animal lovers, there is a home for every animal in need of one--regardless of age, health or behavioral considerations--that someone is out there for them. I know we can help bring them together and maybe along the way, change some hearts and minds about the way an animal can be imperfectly perfect.”

Julie was born and raised in Portland, OR, and after graduating with a Journalism degree from the University of Oregon, she promptly changed career tracks and became an event manager in non-profit and corporate events. As the Senior Manager of the National Events Department for Best Friends Animal Society, she gets to put her event planning chops to work specifically to help homeless cats and dogs across the US. Julie grew up with with dogs, but was not exposed to the world of animal shelters and animal welfare until 1998, when she adopted her first kitten from the Oregon Humane Society. It was kismet from that day on, where she became a volunteer, took on a leadership role helping to train new volunteers and developed and implemented volunteer-run animal programs. Eventually she joined forces with several other shelters and rescue groups in the Portland Metro area to lend them a hand. Along the way, she ended up with a houseful of animals, which currently includes two pit bull like dogs, a beagle/border collie mix, a golden retriever mix and a true Heinz 57 mixed breed, along with two cats and until she recently passed, a house chicken, all living happily together.