Apart from running one of America’s top gem meccas, London Jewelers, Candy Udell has a pet project: helping pups stay alive, healthy and happy.
“I rescue dogs from all over — the southern US, Puerto Rico and China’s meat markets, in partnership with Jeffrey Beri and No Dogs Left Behind. So far, I’ve saved more than 10,000,” says Udell, referring to her impressive rescue-networking efforts, which match imperiled pooches with forever homes.
In 2011, she combined her passions for furry friends and fabulous bling, launching Our Cause for Paws, a jewelry line benefiting the Rescue Paw Foundation, which funds no-kill shelters and humane education around the country. The baubles — each sporting a signature paw print — include necklaces, earrings, bracelets and charms, starting at $45.
“These pieces are gifts that really do give back,” says Udell, who emphasizes that net
proceeds from the line go to the Rescue Paw Foundation.
“People buy them to celebrate their own animals. They get them when they have a new pet, or when a pet passes away, or for a graduation, a birthday or Mother’s Day. My grandchildren love them.”
Udell creates a few new designs for the line each year and hopes to eventually add a men’s collection. It’s an effort that’s personal for the jeweler, who (naturally) adopted her own pooches, Pasha and Charlie.
“Even in America, our animals are treated terribly in some areas,” Udell says. “But we
help them find beautiful, loving homes.”
Further expanding the reach of her charitable efforts, she supports the College of Veterinary Medicine at Long Island University and serves on the board of HEART, which provides spay and neuter services, as well as humane education in Nassau County Schools.
Udell says her favorite part of the project is hearing from others who have adopted pets.
“The animals come from such dark places, and they give so much and expect so little,” she reflects. “A woman adopted a schnauzer once, and I got a call from her after. I thought, ‘Oh no, she wants to bring it back.’
But she was just calling to tell me that her daughter has autism, and she could already tell the dog was changing her life. To me, this is what it’s all about.”