People & Pets: Anne Marie Carson


This is an excerpt from the article “People & Pets” in the Grand Rapids Magazine April 2018 issue. You can read the full article by picking up a copy of the magazine from newsstands now. Don’t miss any Grand Rapids Magazine articles, order your subscription now.

Anne Marie Carson has an obvious soft spot in her heart for animals in need.

“I’m kind of drawn to the pathetic creatures,” she said.

It all began a few years ago after Carson, an attorney at Miller Johnson, and her now husband, Kristofer Pachla, graduated from Grand Valley State University and moved to Washington, D.C., where she attended law school.

“When we moved out to Washington, D.C., we got a cat because of the size of the apartment and amount of time we were home,” Carson said. “But, because I’m a little bit more of a dog person, the compromise was I wanted the most pathetic cat we could find that was never going to get a home.”

So, they adopted a senior cat named Teva — “she hated the shelter so much that she had to live in one of the offices, she had bald patches and she sounded like a smoker when she meowed,” Carson said, “she was perfect.”

After returning to Grand Rapids in 2016, Carson and Pachla decided to adopt two black kittens, Cleopatra and Kira, from the Kent County animal shelter because black cats tend to get adopted less frequently than others. Just months later, Pachla found Avery, a 4-month-old mixed-breed rescue Carson affectionately dubbed an “All-American Rescue Mutt,” waiting in foster care through the Hearts of Hope Dog Rescue to find a forever home. They scheduled an in-home visit, and it was love at first sight.

“Her foster mom and dad brought her over, and this dog was so pathetically scared of humans she wouldn’t come anywhere near Kris and I, and you could just tell she was super broken and needed to be loved,” she said. “So, obviously, we were hooked.”

Since then, with a little help from Carson and Pachla, Avery has made great strides in overcoming her fears, gaining back her confidence and leading a happy, healthy life.

“She is now, basically, a completely different dog,” Carson said. “She loves running, we’ve run up to 10 miles, and she’s the happiest dog in the world; she knows where all the water bowls are around Reeds Lake.

“It’s fun to see what things make the dog more confident in their own skin.”

While Carson noted the challenges of taking care of pets with she and her husband both working full time, she said the benefits of having them in her life far outweigh the costs.

“I do think having a dog makes me so much better at my job, and I think it’s just that forced outdoor time, forced outside time,” Carson said. “Your dog doesn’t care if you’ve had a stressful day or not, they’re so happy to see you when you come home and so happy to go for a walk or chase a tennis ball. I think everyone who has a stressful job should have a pet.”

“There is a lot of work; I’m not trying to say it’s all a walk in the park, there’s definitely a lot of responsibility,” she said, “but there are also huge benefits.”

*Photo by Michael Buck

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