Forgiving Paws Thrift Shop closing

Nonprofit to continue raising funds

ALL VOLUNTEERS Maggie Lairson (left), owner of Forgiving Paws Thrift Shop, is shown with her team of volunteers, which includes Joan Nickell (from left), Kathleen Smith, Larissa Gibbs and her son Mark, and Pattie Flores. Joan Cushworth (not pictured) is also a part of the team. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

After four years of supporting animals in need, Forgiving Paws Thrift Shop is closing its doors at the end of May.

While owner Maggie Lairson is shutting down the shop due to health challenges, her organization’s mission is far from over.

With a board and volunteers in place, Forgiving Paws will continue to operate as a non-profit fundraising organization. Its SPUTER fund, a spay and neuter program, supports families who need financial assistance, and Helping Paws provides funds to help with emergency veterinarian expenses.

Lairson, who was a pug breeder, lost her dogs in 2006 after they ate pet food that was eventually recalled. Soon after, she founded the Forgiving Paws non-profit to help support other pet rescue organizations.

Raising funds through garage sales and other means, Lairson knew she needed a more consistent stream of revenue to support the non-profit, which led to the opening of the thrift shop in March 2015.

The success of the shop, located at 195 Meridan St. in Hollister, is prominently displayed near its entrance, with a sign highlighting the amounts Forgiving Paws has donated to various animal rescue organizations.

Peace of Mind Dog Rescue received $21,625, Pet Friends Rescue $13,490 and Operation Freedom Paws received $9,350, to name just a few. Altogether, more than $122,000 has been donated.

Lairson said she and her team are saddened by the closing.

“We have a great team,” she said. “It’s like clockwork; everybody knows what they are supposed to do and they do it.”

Kathleen Smith, vice president of Forgiving Paws, said Lairson is “very, very generous” when it comes to helping other animal rescue organizations.

“The secret to success is commitment from the top line down,” she said. “Maggie is definitely 150 percent committed, and that’s part of the reason why she needs to close. She’s here 10 hours a day. That’s a lot of work.”

The announcement of the shop’s closing on Facebook drew a strong response from customers.

“You have been such a huge support to animal causes and selflessly donated your time and energy,” Rosie Pettit wrote.

“So sad to see you go,” Kathy Gaeta Kessler wrote. “You all have been an invaluable resource to so many animal rescues in the area.”

Although the thrift shop is closing, Forgiving Paws will continue its SPUTER and Helping Paws funds, and is looking to the community for support. For information and to donate, visit

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