Jaycie Underwood and Katie Mayer. photo by Benjamin Hager

Americans spend $41 billion a year on their pets. That staggering statistic came as a shock to Preston Hollow residents Jaycie Underwood and Katie Mayer, two blond 20-somethings who had been living in the so-called Dallas bubble until they began working with starving orphans in Kenya. “You walk into a community where all you see is devastation, and every person you meet there beams with joy,” Underwood says. “There’s no way to walk away and not have your heart left there.” To help redirect some of those copious dollars spent on fancy cuisine and frou-frou clothes for animals, Underwood and Mayer launched Popular Paws. They hand-make “designer” dog collars from ribbon and sell them for $20 to $30 each to benefit the Kenyan orphanage, Naomi’s Village. “It’s sounds silly, but we’re in Dallas,” Underwood says. “This is something that would sell.” And, it did sell — so much that it went from a temporary fundraiser to an ongoing business. Green Pet in Oak Cliff carries the collars, and the girls are looking to partner with other shops in Preston Hollow. Underwood and Mayer both attend The Village Church where their passion for mission work began. They were connected to Naomi’s Village through a couple at the church who had started the orphanage. “I had always thought that my options were limited,” Mayer says. “Traveling isn’t an option. The Lord placed a desire in my heart that my options are not limited.” Through Popular Paws, Underwood and Mayer try to encourage others to give back in any way they can. “You can play a big part in the world in a small way,” Mayer says. “$20 or $30 is two meals in Dallas but could feed a child for week.”

To order collars from Popular Paws, stop by Green Pet, 315 N. Bishop or visit popularpaws.blogspot.com.

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