Saros makes big saves off-ice through animal rescue efforts

Helping dogs find a fur-ever home, including his own, Nashville Predators netminder Juuse Saros is helping to make big saves through Wags & Walks.

Saros makes big saves off-ice through animal rescue efforts

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Some of the biggest saves Juuse Saros makes never even appear on a scoresheet.

The 28-year-old Nashville Predators netminder has made over 9,600 saves in his NHL career, but his ability to be a difference-maker is not just confined to his life between the pipes.

Outside of the rink, Saros, along with his wife, Minna Varis, have been staunch supporters of animal rescue and welfare organizations.

In 2022, the native of Forssa, Finland launched his charitable campaign, Saros Saves Pucks and Puppies an initiative which sees the netminder donate $5 for every save made to Wags & Walks, a dog rescue and adoption organization.

Opening their Nashville chapter in 2019, Wags & Walks helps rescue and rehome dogs who are at-risk for euthanasia due to shelter overcrowding and breed stigma.

“I have always loved dogs, so when this opportunity came up, it felt like a natural thing to do to join in with Wags & Walks to help out,” said Saros, who in 2022-23 raised $9,640 after making 1,928 saves during the regular season leading all netminders in the category.

Saros and Varis first became associated with the nonprofit in January 2022 when they fostered Wags & Walks’ resident Nala before the couple ended up adopting her themselves.

They also have another dog, Kesa.

“The best thing that has come from this partnership with Wags & Walks is that we got to adopt Nala through the organization,” said Saros.

“It was the best decision ever.”

Saros’ support of Wags & Walks has continued to evolve over the past two years.

In May 2023, Saros, together with the Nashville Predators Foundation, presented a cheque for $50,000 to the organization.

Three months later, Wags & Walks opened its new centre.

Saros and Varis were joined at the ceremony by Kesa and Nala.

“It’s been great seeing a new adoption centre being built and the amount of money we were able to raise in the first two years,” said Saros.

The funds and awareness raised by Saros have no doubt made an impact on Wags & Walks, which also provides services in Nashville, New York and Los Angeles.

Since 2019, the Nashville chapter has rescued over 4,000 dogs with the organization collectively saving over 12,600 across the United States.

They are assisted by 900-plus foster homes and over 450 volunteers.

Events run throughout the year in the Nashville area, including a Puppy Pilates class on April 13 and an adoption and fundraising initiative at a local jewelry store the following day. 

Saros also helps support the organization throughout the year through the establishment of the Preds Pet Club a club designed for pet-owning Preds fans to receive pet merchandise and invites to dog park meet-ups. All proceeds benefit Wags & Walks and the Preds Foundation.

“The people at Wags & Walks are very passionate about helping the animals and with their care,” said Saros.

“It’s rewarding to see how much they do to save so many dogs in need.”

Saros, in his eighth NHL season, all with the Predators, is looking to do more work with the organization in the future.

And he is happy to do it all one save at a time.

“I wish to help them out for many years to come and to expand the organization to be even bigger.”