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Changing lives, four paws at a time

North Paw Rescue

Jenna Stein and Nauti

Fueled entirely by volunteers, donations, and a whole lot of heart, North Paw Rescue is a foster-driven, nonprofit organization in Rochester that helps dogs find their forever homes and people find their new best friends. Founders Marybeth McCarthy (president) and Stacy Edgecombe (vice president/treasurer) had extensive experience working with different rescues and always wanted to start their own. In February of 2022, they made that happen, and since then, North Paw has rescued more than 500 dogs and brought smiles to several different families.  

McCarthy and Edgecombe are two of five board members at the core of North Paw, and working alongside them is Jenna Stein. As vice president, Stein handles the marketing and social media as well as outreach to get rescues into North Paw’s care.

“All five of us have been in rescue for many years,” Stein says. “Stacy and Marybeth brought in who they wanted for the board, and we have made a team of active foster homes. We have about thirty right now, but on our roster we have almost one hundred that could take in a dog at any moment. But we’re always looking for more.”

Through donations and supporters, North Paw is able to cover all costs for their fosters. This not only helps bring in more dogs, but it’s a great way to get more people involved.

“Every rescue in the area is overrun and desperate for a foster home,” Stein says. “Anyone who doesn’t necessarily have the means to care for a dog of their own can make a huge difference through fostering and give back without having any monetary burden. We provide any supplies that our fosters need, whether that be crate beds, toys, food, anything.”

North Paw gets numerous owner surrender requests and will pull dogs from shelters such as Verona Street and Rochester Animal Services. These are usually dogs that aren’t doing well in a kennel environment and would benefit from being in a home and having time away from the chaos. North Paw also works with a network of rescues in Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and southern states. A big percentage of their rescues, however, come from puppy mills and commercial breeders.

“We bring in from puppy mills every week, typically from Ohio, Pennsylvania, or New York,” Stein says. “There are a couple of very dedicated volunteers who are trusted contacts of millers and breeders, so those places will reach out to us about dogs they want to give up. We then have volunteers who go to Ohio every week with a van and bring back somewhere between twenty to twenty-five dogs.”


But for those dogs to cross the state border, they must get age-appropriate vaccines and go through health certifications. Volunteers will be on the road sometimes from 4 a.m. until midnight, but it’s worth it.

“When we go to millers and breeders, we’re very thankful that they chose to come to us and surrender their dogs into a loving home. We never share their names, farms, or locations so we can maintain our relationships with them, and they continue to surrender in the future,” Stein says.

In light of this, there are success stories that come through the work North Paw and other rescues do. Governor Hochul signed legislation to end the Puppy Mill Pipeline in December of 2022, banning the sale of pets from breeders and millers at pet stores.

“We brought three puppies in the other night from an individual, and those were their last dogs, and now they’re shutting down the whole operation,” Stein says. “Often the dogs coming in have not been treated well. But with love and patience, they come around. Those are the most heartwarming cases—the dogs that come in with their tails between their legs and pancaked on the floor, and then two weeks later they’re wagging, and are thrilled to see someone walk in their room.”

With so many dogs in need, one might wonder how fosters are able to care for them without adopting themselves. Well, maybe they don’t. Stein explains that all five members of the board have “foster failed,” meaning they’ve ended up adopting a dog they’re fostering.

“It’s the one failure you want in your life,” Stein says. “Most of our fosters will fail at some point. It was over five years before I finally foster failed, and he’s perfect—I can’t imagine my life without him. He came from a puppy mill and was literally dropped off at a vet to be euthanized because he had an eye injury, and they couldn’t sell him.”

Jingle (right), Jenna Stein and Nauti (left)

Sometimes there is a belief that rescues are “not good enough.” Some feel as though there must be something wrong with them or they’re not as good as dogs that come from a breeder. Stein explains that this isn’t the case.

“We got a golden doodle puppy a couple months ago that was surrendered because its hair wasn’t curly enough to sell,” Stein says. “Often when you buy from a breeder or from a pet store, they have not been in homes or well socialized before they’re purchased or adopted. With rescues, you’re going to know more about their personalities. We brought in purebred Golden Doodles, Bernedoodles, and a Bernese Mountain dog the other night, but we also found a litter of puppies outside at about six days old—we don’t know anything about their past but they’re adorable. There are dogs of every age, size, breed, and temperament if you’re willing to look around.”

Many times, people find themselves sitting on the thought of adopting a dog—fostering can be a great alternative.

“Whether you are just out of college or in your sixties or seventies, fostering is for everyone. We take in folks who have experience as well as those who don’t and help them through the process,” Stein says.

Depending on the dog, North Paw won’t adopt them out for at least a week to give them enough time to decompress and monitor their health, but sometimes this isn’t long enough. Jingle has been in their care since December 2022 and is ready for adoption.

North Paw hosts monthly fundraising events at places like OSB Ciderworks where they’ll bring adoptable dogs for people to come and meet. Information on adoptable dogs, applying to be a foster, and upcoming events can all be found on their website at, and questions can be answered through Facebook, Instagram, or a contact form on their website.

“It’s a lot, but it’s super rewarding. Our team of volunteers and fosters make sure that we can change as many lives as possible,” Stein says.

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