Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Work with animals has own rewards

WORK IN PROGRESS | Herald staff
Mark Coleman


Mark Coleman

Mark Coleman is communications manager for PAWS, a Lynnwood animal rescue center. He lives in Edmonds with his wife and two rescued dogs, a rottweiler and a standard poodle.
Q: When did you join PAWS?
A: I joined PAWS in January of 2011, after spending 15 years in television as a reporter and weatherman. It was the perfect opportunity to combine my love of animals with my writing and reporting skills.
Q: Why did you decide to change jobs?
A: I grew tired of the grind in television after spending much of my time covering crime stories that had no real value. After knocking on widows’ doors for a number of years, I realized I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t feel it made anyone’s life better, and it certainly wasn’t improving mine.
Q: What convinced you that this was the job for you?
A: I couldn’t find a better organization than PAWS. They’re amazing. Forty-five years of helping animals is a heck of a track record.
Q: How did your friends and family react when you told them you were getting into this business?
A: When I left television, my friends were like, “Really?” You could tell they were thinking. “That’s not going to pay much.” But it’s changed me in a good way. I’m happier, and the people that are closest to me see that. It makes me a better person.
Q: What does it take to blend your passion with your livelihood?
A: What I do today is soul food. With very word I write, and every story I’m able to tell, I’m saving the lives of animals. It’s that simple.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge and how did you meet it?
A: The challenge to working at PAWS is the same as most nonprofit groups – how can we do this for little or no money? The vast majority of the money we raise goes directly to animal care. You can say, “Boy, I sure could use a new computer,” but then you think, “but another $500 would be enough to finish the new deer pens.” That’s pretty much how it goes (smile). … There are financial realities to my career change. Nonprofits are not for the financially motivated. Last year when I turned my tax documents over to my accountant, he looked at me sheepishly and asked, “Are you really sure you need me?” I couldn’t help but laugh.
Q: What motivates you?
A: When I’m having a bad day, and it doesn’t happen that often, I go and hang out with the animals in the shelter. It’s not sad, because I know we’re going to find them homes. The animals and I are just celebrating a little early (smile).
Q: What personal qualities do you think are needed to excel in this business?
A: I would recommend this to anyone looking to feel good about what they do in their lives and what they’re able to change.
Q: When you’re not working, how do you enjoy spending your time?
A: When I’m not working, I like to play a little guitar, take the dogs to the park, and spend time with my wonderful wife. She’s crazy about what I do, and that’s a good thing.
PAWS Companion Animal Shelter and Wildlife Center
WHERE: 15305 44th Ave. W, Lynnwood
PHONE: 425-787-2500