Honesty is Pawsitively Furever Rescue’s policy

This cute puppy, Hazel, is available for adoption
This cute puppy, Hazel, is available for adoption at Pawsitively Furever Rescue in Saddle Brook

Laura Witzal’s relationship with New Jersey pet rescues began after her Jack Russell passed away. In 2014 she was heartbroken and desperate to adopt a rescue to join her family, and that’s when she founded Pawsitively Furever. Before Thanksgiving that year Witzal, who is a nurse manager by day, found a pit bull. About a month later she found another rescue. It wasn’t long before Witzal began to foster dogs for a small rescue in her hometown, Saddle Brook. 

However, Witzal took issue with the rescues’ dishonesty. Her years of working with rescues inspired a new sense of urgency: to put honesty at the forefront of her mission. Eventually, her passion for caretaking accelerated into a new journey, and she found an opportunity to start her own Saddle Brook rescue. 

“Rescues don’t back their dogs,” said Witzal, with nine dogs at her feet. “I’ll give you two weeks, if it doesn’t work out, give the dog back and I’ll give you your money back. I give their potential owners the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of adopting a dog. I treat my dogs like they are my patient,” she said.“

Pawsitively Furever is like a family to Witzal. The leaders of the 100% foster-based rescue have supported the rescue for most of its existence. The rescue’s vice president, for example, started volunteering with Pawsitively Furever when she was 14. “It takes a team to move the rescues into loving homes, and to keep them there. Yet adoptions don’t always work out. “Most adoptees are owner surrenders,” said Witzal. 

She tells the story of a seven-month-old puppy. The owners allegedly sent the pup to Frenchtown, for boarding and training but never came back for her. The owners abandoned their dog, but it wasn’t long before Pawsitively Furever took her in.

A lot of Pawsitively Furever’s dogs come from Texas where Witzal finds rescues and adopts them out. By mid-January, about 20 new dogs had entered the Pawsitively Furever foster system. Vets give the dogs their shots and inspect them for parasites, said Witzal. Then the rescue transports the dogs to the Garden State.

Witzal sends her Texas partners $12,000 a month for the medical process. In the meantime, Pawsitively Furever will receive the dogs in the middle of the night where Witzal and volunteers clean and examine the dogs themselves. Adopters receive information packets made by Witzal. Her packets are an important part of her rescue process, which helps inform adopters. Find them on the Pawsitively Furever website.

“Be honest, be truthful. It’s about the animals, it’s not about the money. I want people to put themselves in the dog’s shoes,” said Witzal. “Tell the truth about the dog. There is a dog for every person, you just have to find that person,” she said. 

Meet Hazel:

This cute puppy, Hazel, is available for adoption
This cute puppy, Hazel, is available for adoption at Pawsitively Furever Rescue in Saddle Brook

Hazel was surrendered to Pawsitively Furever when her owners could no longer hide her from their landlord. She was kept in a pen all her life and remains the sweetest dog. She is one year old and fully vetted. Hazel weighs 50 pounds and she gets along with other dogs. However, she can get the zoomies as she is still a puppy, especially in her own eyes. She loves cuddles and kisses, relaxing, and running around in the yard. Reach out and give her a forever home this winter.

The rescue won an award for its adoption services in 2019. Pawsitively Furever was considered “Best of 2019, Hackensack.” Pawsitively Furever needs fosters. Visit their site for more information.


Lana Leonard
Lana Leonard (they/them) is a graduate from The College of New Jersey with a degree in journalism and professional writing. They work at the GLAAD Media institute and freelance for publications like LGBTQ Nation while working on their journalistic theory of change project: Late Nights with Lana, a talk show based out of 10PRL film studios in Long Branch, NJ. Lana's mission, in all their work, is to focus on people, their collective truths and how those truths form a community of knowledge towards change.