INTERVIEW : Theresa Lucero & Michelle Velardo

PLV Logo 2015Tell us about PAWcasso Las Vegas.

PAWcasso Las Vegas is a nonprofit organizations whose mission is to raise funds and awareness for local animal welfare and rescue charities. Most of the animal rescue groups are run by a small network of hardworking animal lovers who also have jobs, families, and pets of their own. They dedicate their time to rescuing and caring for homeless animals, but often do not have the experience, volunteers, or time to devote to fundraising. This is where PAWcasso Las Vegas steps in; we do the work of fundraising, so the animal welfare organizations can focus on what they do best … the rescue, care, and keeping of the neglected, abused, and homeless animals of Las Vegas.

How did you become involved with PAWcasso?

The event PAWcasso began four years ago when Jocelyn Arter, who had created an event previously for the Weimaraner Rescue called Bark For Art, decided to do something similar to help small, struggling animal rescue groups. She came up with Pawcasso as an event and tool for rescue groups to raise and collectively to save lots of animals in our community. After last year’s event, she handed it over to me (Theresa) because of my involvement in the arts and experience with fundraising. Soon after, Michelle and I decided to make PAWcasso LV its own nonprofit. She also knew that we are big time animal lovers!

What are your long term goals with PAWcasso?

One of our goals is to take PAWcasso from an annual event and make it a year round fundraising platform. These rescues rely on fundraisers, and being able to give them even small amounts of funds throughout the year will make a big difference for them. In addition, we plan to use PAWcasso as a means of img_2918spreading awareness about local rescues, animal safety, and welfare.

What local artwork can we expect to see at this event?

We have some great pieces of art coming out of the local art scene. Jana Lynch of Jana’s RedRoom has donated a piece. We also have donations from fellow animal lovers, Mike Korn, Kat Tatz, Tim Hovde, MJ Ford from Carrara Fine Art , a piece by Arbor, the famous Go Vegas Dog, and many more. Las Vegas is full of talented artists and many of them use their talents to give back to the community. It’s a generosity that is often taken for granted, and that is why it is important to us to give the artists as much credit and exposure as possible. For a complete list of artist donors, please visit our website at

Kat TatzHow does this event help the community?

The most obvious way that PAWcasso LV helps the community is by raising funds for our local animal rescues. These funds go toward a lot more than the public realizes. Rescues have to pay fees to pull animals from the kill shelters, pay for veterinary costs including spay and neuter, pay for microchipping the rescued animals, pay for everyday care and feeding of animals in foster homes, boarding costs for those not in foster homes, and sometimes assist needy families with food and veterinary care for their pets. Many rescues also save animals with medical or behavioral concerns that would otherwise be euthanized for their conditions, and therefore have to pay for more extensive veterinary costs and training classes. They handle all of this on top of dealing with the regular overhead expenses of running a nonprofit organization. At the end of the day, rescues do a lot more than provide families with pets. They provide services which ultimately provide a safer, cleaner, healthier community.

Michelle and I PAWcasso

Theresa Lucero has been a Las Vegas resident since 1987. An artist from an early age, she has always been involved with the arts and other creative avenues, and earned a BA in art from UNLV. Since then, she has worked at a local non-profit while dedicating her free time to art projects for local charities, especially those associated with animal welfare.

Michelle Velardo was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada and graduated from Green Valley High School. An only child, she had the full attention of devoted parents who encouraged her to always follow her heart, and, was taught at an early age to help others in need. Michelle has always had a great appreciation for the arts and earned a BA at UNLV before changing direction and working for many years at a local non-profit agency. Being that she is an animal lover, and seeing the great work that animal rescues do, Michelle decided to utilize her nonprofit fundraising experience and take on PAWcasso Las Vegas with her best friend, Theresa Lucero. As with all work she does in the field of animal welfare, Michelle dedicates PAWcasso to her own rescue babies, Sadie and Ellie.

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