Dogs are man’s best friend- and man is a dog’s best friend. At least, that’s what Karen Fischer-Newman, 65, believes.
Fischer-Newman, who lives in Lake Point, has worked since 2013 on the Companion Animal Magazine, the Bark for Life events with the American Cancer Society, and works with local organizations as well as her own job as a realtor to get animals who need homes adopted
Her commitment to animals has been lifelong — in previous years, Fischer-Newman was the chairperson for the Bark for Life event hosted by the American Cancer Society, which aims to find treatments for both human and canine cancers. The event includes 30-40 vendors selling products for animals and their owners, events, and guest speakers.
She worked with Bark for Life for five years.
“It was a great event, we raised a lot of money, and I really miss doing it!” she said.
Nowadays, Fischer-Newman works with dogs and animals almost every day.
She works as the photographer, social media coordinator, and graphic designer for the Companion Animal magazine, a volunteer-run magazine founded in 2013.
The magazine features animals that need homes, as well as uplifting stories about organizations that help animals and pet health, or pets that found new homes.
The magazine also supports local pet stores and veterinarian offices by running their ads alongside the stories.
Fischer-Newman started work with the magazine in 2013, when the editor approached her at one of the Bark for Life events after reading some poems Fischer-Newman wrote commemorating her two golden retrievers that had passed away.
“We work a lot with Hearts 4 Paws and the West Valley Animal shelter,” Fischer-Newman explained. “We try to raise money for food for the pets and that type of thing.”
Hearts 4 Paws is a West Valley-based organization that specializes in animal adoption. They have weekly adoption days with as many as 10 animals a week adopted out to new loving homes. Those animals that have a hard time finding forever homes go into animal fostering programs.
The magazine is published monthly. Fischer-Newman works on it daily throughout the month. She designs ads, makes layouts, and takes pictures of the animals and the people who work with them around the Tooele and Salt Lake area.
Recently, Fischer-Newman did a Halloween theme photoshoot with some local Friesian horses, famous for their pure black coloring, and their owner.
She has spent as much as three hours a night working on the final designs for the magazine before the issue is printed, on top of her day job as a real estate agent.
As a real estate agent, Fischer-Newman has become even more aware of animals that need help.
“A lot of times I will show homes that people have abandoned their animals in,” she said. “In fact, I have one right now that’s a cat. I was over there with my clients and this really friendly cute cat was just hanging around.”
Fischer-Newman said she has seen many cases of abandoned animals in the houses she shows.
“Animals get really depressed when their families leave them,” she said. “Many times, the family moves to a place that doesn’t allow animals, or moves far away and can’t take their dog with them.”
Fischer-Newman does her best to find these animals new families.
“There was a house I was showing over in Draper, and there was the most adorable yellow lab,” she said. “I had called the agent and said ‘What’s this dog doing here?’ and she said ‘Well… they moved somewhere that won’t allow dogs… they feed it; they don’t know what they’re going to do with it.’”
She went down there the next day, brought a ball, and tried to play with the dog.
“It was so depressed it wouldn’t even play, it just laid there,” Fischer-Newman said.
With permission from the owners, Fischer-Newman photographed the dog and began trying to find someone to take him in. Fortunately, she found someone.
“I found a lady who was all alone who fell in love with him and took him in,” she said. “To see him even just a couple of weeks later — he was a whole different dog. I mean, it just changed his personality because he was loved and taken care of, like night and day.”
Fischer-Newman said that the public needs to become more aware of animal abuse — from puppy mills to cases of neglect like the ones she has seen. “Some people think — I hear this so much — ‘It’s just a dog!’” she said. “And then I say ‘Then don’t get one, if you think ‘it’s just a dog.’”
She spreads awareness through social media, donation to rescues, and online petitions about animal abuse and how to stop it.
“The poor, defenseless animals need somebody to speak for them,” Fischer-Newman said of mistreated animals. “I think every little bit helps, if people could get more involved.”
She also advocates for no-kill shelters and policies.
“If [shelters] have stray animals or no one claims them, they euthanize them,” she said. “I don’t think that’s fair. They need to have a better facility or better programs so that no animal is euthanized just because no one claims them… they need to work on finding more homes. We’re trying to be no-kill.”
Fischer-Newman’s love of animals and their value in human lives started when she was young.
Growing up in Moab, Fischer-Newman loved the landscape of the area and always had family cats and dogs.
One of her favorite pets as a child were her hamsters.
“I started a science project in sixth grade…,” she recalls. “I bought an albino hamster and a teddy hamster to breed them and see what the genes did. I actually ended up with about 24 hamsters… I loved them — had cages all over for them!”
Although she grew up loving animals, Fischer-Newman wasn’t always able to have them. She worked with a telecommunications company for several years, which had her traveling all over the Midwest.
As soon as she settled in Utah with her husband, however, the couple adopted three golden retrievers, nicknamed ‘the old boys’. Both dogs were brothers. They led to some of Fischer-Newman’s love of big rescue dogs.
Although the goldens have now passed away, Fischer-Newman has now become the proud owner of two more golden retrievers and a mix-breed puppy. All three of the dogs are rescues, named after areas in British Columbia — Kootneai, Nakusp, and Kaslo.
Fischer-Newman and the dogs spend a lot of time together exploring, snowshoeing, visiting the Great Salt Lake, and hiking.
Animals are as much a part of the family as humans are, according to Fischer-Newman.
“Open up your heart and home to an animal,” she said. “They are a reward. You get love — unconditional love — from animals.”