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August 2008
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Family Practice Doc Stitches Beds for Needy Pooches

Phyllis PoppArizona’s swelling pet population is keeping animal shelters’ hands and kennels full, but while thousands of homeless cats and dogs await adoption, one Tempe animal lover is trying to make their stay a bit cozier.  Dr. Phyllis Popp began making her Labor of Love Pet Beds a year ago and now she’s made close to 900 of them for kennels at the Arizona Humane Society, Maricopa County Animal Care & Control and Finding Fido of Phoenix.

“I love to sew, but how many clothes do I need?” Popp asked. “If I’m going to be sewing anyway, I might as well be doing something useful with my time.”  The fiber-filled fleece beds are machine washable and guaranteed not to mat or clump. They come in three sizes and a variety of patterns, including kid-friendly Kermit the Frog.  They’re basically a human pillow but for a dog. All of my dogs have them,” said Pam Howard, the Arizona Humane Society’s retail programs manager.

The donated beds are given to animals in the Humane Society’s Second Chance Hospital, which is home to animals that have been struck by cars or endured other injuries or those who have undergone medical treatment or surgery.  They used to sleep on old towels or blankets or webbed cots built from PVC pipe and material similar to that of a lawn chair.  Now, they heal on Labor of Love Pet Beds.  The beds are also given to foster families temporarily housing animals and are sold at the Humane Society’s Pet Emporium for $25 each.  Howard said the shop has sold close to 200, with 100 percent of sales going to the Humane Society.

Popp’s day job as a practicing family physician in Mesa doesn’t allow too much free time for her craft, but she said she can produce three to four beds an hour on weekends and after work.  She cuts coupons and shops for deals at Valley fabric stores or online in order to afford her hobby. She also sells beds on her own at prices ranging from $15 for the smaller beds to $30 for the jumbo size.  But Popp, who has spent thousands on materials and supplies, is not looking to get rich or even to make a profit. She hopes to generate only enough money through sales to keep making beds to donate.  “If I sell one, I can get enough material to make two beds,” she said.

For Popp, a self-proclaimed pet lover, the money she’s spent, the hours she dedicates each week and the heaping piles of pillows that clutter her living-room couches aren’t a burden but a labor of love.  “I can’t save the world, and my house is full,” Popp said, alluding to her own seven rescued canines. “But at least now they’ll have something soft to sleep on.”

Read the rest of the story and find out where to purchase one of Popp’s pet beds at The Arizona Republic.

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