Andy's Paw Prints is a family run business with three goals. First to help people grieve the loss of a pet. Secondly to help animals in shelters and rescues. And thirdly to bring a little joy into people's lives with a fun piece of art.
Andy's Paw Prints is run by me, Tim Wemple the pet artist here at Andy's Paw Prints, and Sherry, my adorable wife who handles all the customer service part of the business. Oh, and I can't forget the dogs; Andy, Andrea, Olivia and Shadow who constantly remind us why we do what we do. The goal from the very beginning of our business has been to help people grieve the loss of their pet and at the same time help shelters and rescues care for animals. To that end it only seemed right to name the business after our own rescue dog Andy, who we adopted from the Joplin Humane Society after the Joplin tornado.
Both my wife and I come from very different backgrounds than rescues and shelters. I was a Medical Technologist with over thirty years of experience and Sherry was a Banker with nearly twenty nine years of customer service experience. But what we both had in common when it came to rescues and shelters was a deep desire to make a difference in pet's lives.
Andy's Paw Prints was born out of a late night conversation I had with my wife about her dog Lily who had died of cancer several years earlier. She wanted to get an artistic pet portrait of her beloved Lily. She told me she had found an artist online and wanted to see if he could create a portrait from her photograph. I said, "Sure". But after corresponding with the artist she decided it was just to expensive. The next question She had for me was, "Could you create one for me?" I, as well as being a Medical Technologist, was a photographer and Photoshop guru by some people's account, so it wasn't entirely out of the realm of possibility. I had passed up a scholarship in high school to go to school for art and chose a medical career instead. At the time it seemed like a much safer choice. But I had never lost my love of art and was always dabbling with it on the side. Knowing how much my wife wanted the portrait I told her I would try. After a few months of perfecting my technique in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, I came up with what is now my signature style, the Pop Art Digital Illustration style.
At about the same time I created my wife's portrait of Lily She was volunteering at the Joplin Human Society. Every night we had multiple conversations about what we could do to help. Sherry realized during her time volunteering that the need was overwhelming. We knew we could make a donation, but we wanted to do something that could be sustained, not just an occasional donation. The thought was maybe we could use pet portraits like the one I had just created to help raise money for the shelter. There wasn't much thought about this being anything more than just a small sideline activity that we could use to help, but it grew into so much more. It wasn't long before we had other shelters asking if we could donate to them as well.
Feeling a loyalty to the Joplin Humane Society though Sherry felt a need to ask Lysa, the director there, if she would care if we branched out to help other shelters and rescues. Lysa said, "By all means, help every pet you can." So Andy's Paw Prints moved from just helping the Joplin Humane Society to helping a few other shelters and rescues as well. Our dream of helping pets in need was growing faster than we could have ever imagined. It was taking up every spare moment we had to keep up with the orders. When social media was added to our business it became evident that this could become a business that could make a major difference in people and pets lives.
There were two principles we wanted to make sure were always had as a part of our business. First we wanted to make sure people could afford a custom pet portrait. Sherry knew the heart break of losing a pet and she also knew the deep disappointment of not being able to get a portrait done of her beloved Lily. So we wanted to keep our cost as low as possible and yet high enough that we could help animals in need. We also wanted to make our business one that didn't just do fund raisers, or short term donations, but one that gave 365 days a year. To that end from the very beginning we have donate 25% of our profit with EVERY portrait we do, every day of the year. Our goals and principles have gotten us a long way. Our website now has been visited by over 90 countries and we are helping over 170 shelters and rescues in the US and Canada. That number is constantly growing as we keep trying to find ways to satisfy our customers desires and give to our partners.