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11 posts from April 2010

Three little Virginia Opossums at about 60-70 days old
 Three little Virginia Opossums at about 60-70 days old

I always know it is spring at the PAWS Wildlife Center because opposite my office door is the door to one of our busiest baby mammal nurseries.

All day long volunteers and staff go in and out of that room to feed some of the smallest baby mammals we see such as squirrels (Douglas, Eastern and Flying Squirrels) and Virginia Opossums.

Then, if I look farther into the wildlife center there are the same volunteers and staff feeding baby Raccoons in our Raccoon nursery and baby Eastern Cottontails in our quieter rabbit nursery.

The infant mammals are hand-fed up to six times each day so you can imagine how busy our volunteers are. Some volunteers spend their entire five-hour shift just feeding and cleaning babies.

They literally have time for only this because they go from one feeding to the next. It’s a full-time job to act as “surrogate parents” for these helpless animals.

Douglas Squirrel being hand-fed (5-6 weeks old)
 Douglas Squirrel being hand-fed (5-6 weeks old)

These babies are considered orphaned wildlife, orphaned as a result of cat attacks, dog attacks, landscaping projects gone wrong, intentional removal from homeowners, poisonings, etc. We serve as their last chance for survival. Most of these animals, if not brought to a rehabilitation facility, would suffer and die in the wild.

It is one thing to allow Mother Nature to take her course where survival of the fittest wins out, and it’s another to allow our human-related mistakes to harm wildlife.

At PAWS we feel it is the least we can do to give back to the wild community what often is taken away from these young animals—a chance at living a successful wild life.

I encourage you to consider volunteering at PAWS today!

We have many opportunities available assisting not only wild mammal babies, but also wild baby birds, and adult wild mammals and birds.

This is a volunteer experience unlike any other and with such lasting satisfaction and impact for both you and the wild community around all of us.

Baby Raccoon (less than 3 weeks old) with eyes still closed
 Baby Raccoon (less than 3 weeks old) with eyes still closed

Eastern Gray Squirrel 
If you love wildlife, don’t feed them!

I know this may sound harsh. But, trust me, it is good advice.

As the Wildlife Admissions Specialist at PAWS, part of my job is to answer calls from people who have questions and concerns about wild animals.

After 8 years of fielding calls, I can safely say that food appears to be one of the core reasons for most wildlife injuries, illnesses and conflicts.

I will also add that the people who do feed wildlife, do it out of kindness, not malice. But that still doesn’t mean it’s okay to feed them.

Why do people feed wildlife?
Canada Goose People love to see them up close. So they will lure them with a number of food items. Some people think if they feed wildlife, they will make up for habitat loss. It will take a lot more than food to recover that. Other folks believe that feeding wildlife will keep them away from the pets’ food left outside or keep them out of their garden.

Whatever their reason may be, it is detrimental to the animals. I explain to the callers why feeding wildlife is a bad idea:

  • Food that people offer (such as bread) is often nutritionally unsound and can cause serious, lasting health problems.
  • Foraging skills diminish as the animal learns to depend on people. The normal pattern of movement is altered and it contributes to low survival rates.
  • The animal loses his or her healthy fear of humans and pets. This puts both the animal and people in danger.
  • It leads to overpopulation. Left alone, wildlife will have as many offspring as the natural food supply dictates.
  • It can lead to disease that can spread to people, pets and other wildlife via:
    • direct contact through bites, scratches.
    • direct contact with membranes of mouth, nose, eyes.
    • indirect transmission through fleas, ticks, mosquitoes.
    • indirect transmission through inhalation of disease causing germs.
  • It can lead to aggression with other wildlife and pets.
  • It can cause habitat degradation and property damage.

So what can you do?
Here are some suggestions:

  • Do not feed wildlife, intentionally or unintentionally!
  • Keep trash cans and compost bins securely covered.
  • Close pet doors at night.
  • Feed pets indoors.
  • If pets must be fed outdoors, feed them during the day. Monitor the feeding time and pick up the dishes immediately after.

Three Raccoons Enjoying wildlife is still possible without feeding them. I suggest planting your yard with native plants to provide natural food and habitat. In addition, a good pair of binoculars allows you a closer look without disturbing the animals. Visits to parks and natural areas are a great way to watch wildlife, too.

Not feeding wildlife is best for wildlife and you.

Logan“Everyone needs a hero sometimes, even a tiny kitten. People are always looking for a way to make a difference, and being a foster parent gives you that opportunity," explains Rebecca Oertel, PAWS Foster Care Coordinator.

"You also get the added benefit of receiving some fluffy attention and snuggle time with darling kittens or puppies and the companionship of an adult cat or dog. We think of the PAWS foster parents as our heroes. They make such an amazing difference in the life of an animal who has already gone through some sort of trauma or medical problem. Foster parents do this simply by providing a little bit of love, some good meals and a safe, warm place to temporarily call home.”

Because of their heroic efforts, the PAWS foster volunteers saves the lives of more than 1,000 dogs, cats, puppies and kittens every year—roughly 30 percent of all the animals who come through the PAWS Companion Animal Shelter. The most common reason for foster care is to allow kittens and puppies to grow older, gain weight, and become properly socialized. Animals with colds, injuries or other illnesses also benefit from foster care as the quiet comfort of a home is much more conducive to a speedy, thorough recovery.

In addition to providing love and nurturing, foster parents also help PAWS learn more about the animals’ behavior in a home environment. This information is extremely valuable when matching up animals with their new families.

PAWS is gearing up for the spring and summer “kitten season,” and every additional foster home helps. We provide veterinary care, medication, starter food, training and ongoing support, while foster volunteers provide love, toys and the basic essentials. Learn how YOU can become a hero. If your current lifestyle will not allow you to temporarily house an animal, you can still help by donating much needed items from our wish list. See our hours and location to deliver your donations!

Become a hero to one (or a litter) of the thousands of kittens, puppies, cats and dogs who arrive at the PAWS animal shelter needing a little boost in life. Thank you!

Carolina4  Fosters

Pictured above: (top) Logan, a kitten who needed bottle-feeding; (bottom left) Carolina, a 9-month-old Smooth Collie mix went to foster for kennel cough; (bottom right) Moesha, Marshall, Carlson, and Clemens (litter of 6-week-old kittens) went to foster to grow up a little and receive some socialization.

Steller's Jay, PAWS Campus Update on the Stellar’s Jay that was caught in a rat trap:

PAWS’ Naturalist Kevin Mack recently photographed one of our patients in our pre-release caging as he/she (we’re not sure of the bird's sex) made a new friend here on PAWS’ campus.

This was the Steller’s Jay who came into PAWS’ care after being caught in a rat trap. A local jay began visiting our patient’s cage as he/she was being conditioned for release. Since the bird in care originated from only a few miles away in Everett, we decided to release him/her on campus in case a pair bond was forming between the two birds.

We’ll never know if they ended up seeking each other out after the bird in care was released, but the bird outside the cage was pretty persistent so we wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

When fish and wildlife officers brought two Black Bear cubs to PAWS in July of 2009 from coastal Oregon, the bears were just little balls of fur weighing around 30 pounds each. We estimated their age to be about 6 months.

I was both excited and sad that we had received them. Excited because I had never seen bear cubs that small and sad that they were needing rehabilitation in the first place. These little guys, both males, were orphaned as a result of their mother being shot. Because the people in the community were feeding the bear family, mom got too comfortable and helped herself to an un-penned chicken, which resulted in her death.

Black Bear 091486 Pre-release Exam 1Black Bear 091486 Pre-release Exam 2

Nearly 8 months later after growing up at PAWS, they are now back in their native habitat, hopefully roaming their new territory, foraging, playing, and just being bears.

The boys were released Sunday, April 4 by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in central Oregon.

Before they left PAWS Wildlife Center, our veterinarian, Dr. John Huckabee and veterinary student extern, Michelle Malament, tranquilized the bears, with the help of the rehabilitation team, and gave them a last examination as illustrated in the photos.

One bear was fitted with a radio collar and both were ear-tagged so the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife can track them.

I will miss seeing them on our camera monitors in the wildlife center lobby. But I am much happier that they are back where they belong.

Every year, PAWS Companion Animal Shelter helps over 3,000 companion animals find new homes. With less than 20 full- and part-time employees devoted to the care of the cats and dogs during their stay, we rely on the help of many volunteers from the community. Without these outstanding folks, we could not dream of doing the work that we do.

One of the positions that is vital to the care of dogs in our shelter is that of Kennel Attendant. It is the Kennel Attendants’ responsibility to take care of the dogs and provide customer service to potential adopters in the kennels during our adoption hours. They provide fresh water and bedding whenever it is needed, scoop and mop messes out of kennels, keep laundry and dishes going throughout the day, and spend time with the dogs. These volunteers are the eyes and ears of the kennels. They alert staff to changes in health, and in behavior.

Kennel Attendant Pattie Beaven hangs out with Sydney
Above: Kennel Attendant Pattie Beaven hangs out with Sydney.

Kennel Attendants are also instrumental in teaching our dogs new tricks and basic manners. It is incredibly important to keep dogs' minds occupied while they wait for their forever homes.

Like everyone at PAWS who works with dogs, Kennel Attendants employ our Good Dog! Program to teach our pups things like sit, shake and how to walk politely on leash, just to name a few. After interacting with a dog, they write notes about the animal's behavior so staff knows how the dog is progressing or if he or she needs any extra attention.

It is thanks to our volunteers that we get to know our dogs as well as we do, and thus can make the best match possible between adopter and adoptee.

To become a Kennel Attendant, first apply to be a volunteer at PAWS. After your application is reviewed, we will send you an invitation for a volunteer orientation. Once you've attended orientation, you can sign up to for your desired position and shift (as a note, there are lots of other volunteer opportunities, too). You will attend a skills training, and complete one shift shadowing a veteran volunteer. As with the majority of positions for PAWS volunteers, Kennel Attendants must commit to 12 consecutive weeks in their position.

We really mean it when we say we can't do our work without our volunteers. It's a wonderful experience to work side by side with people who truly enjoy helping animals in need. Thanks to all of our past and present volunteers who have put in so much time and effort for our animals. And for those of you that are interested, we hope you'll join us.

Kennel Attendants Becki Hunter, Noel Arguello-Mailler and Pattie Beaven folding laundry
Kennel Attendants Becki Hunter, Noel Arguello-Mailler and Pattie Beaven folding laundry

The U.S. Postal Service has unveiled its cutest batch of stamps yet! The theme is Animal Rescue and the focus is Adopt a Shelter Pet. Each year the USPS creates a stamp for social awareness and this year we are lucky enough to have the spotlight land on shelter animals. Check out the Stamps to the Rescue website to learn more about this campaign and see the adorable stamps for yourself.

Max, available for adoption at PAWSThe stamps feature five cats and five dogs who were adopted from a shelter in New Milford, CT. Not unlike so many of the animals we adopt out from PAWS each year, the Stamps to the Rescue campaign is a strong reminder of the amazing cats and dogs who find themselves in shelters across the country, desperately in need of loving homes.

Take, for instance, handsome Max, a dignified, grey-faced, 7-year-old Lab mix who is far from retirement. Max has spent most of his life outdoors without people or other dogs around so he is adjusting to the flurry of activity and the flood of attention he receives at PAWS.

But spend a few minutes with Max and you’ll soon discover that he’s a total pushover. He is thrilled with each visitor and he naturally leans into you with love as you scratch behind his ears. Max could be the perfect, easy-going co-pilot to join you in life’s exciting adventures.

 Little Lady, available for adoption at 

PAWSAnd then there is precious Little Lady, an 11-month-old girl who was brought into PAWS as a stray. Even at her young age, Little Lady has been diagnosed with a heart murmur. But fear not – for many cats live long and healthy lives with heart murmurs. Little Lady is a typical youngster who is playful, affectionate, and loves 80’s music. Are you curious about Little Lady’s condition? Learn more about heart murmurs and the amazing cats who live with them.

Now that you’ve had a chance to see a few of our special friends at PAWS, I’d like to ask you to help all shelter animals put their best face forward. Order your stamps early at the Postal Store now, or at your local Post Office starting on April 30. The homeless cats and dogs of America thank you.

Following King County’s announcement yesterday of a regional animal services proposal, I wanted to clarify PAWS' role in the plan.

Beginning in May, PAWS will provide sheltering services for cats and dogs from the city of Shoreline. Negotiations are still being finalized with Bothell, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park and Woodinville, but we expect to provide services for these cities sometime in the near future.

We are not taking stray animals from these places until all contracts are finalized and dates set, therefore citizens in these communities need to continue to take strays to King County’s shelter.

Since these five communities are geographically close to us, and we have an already well-established system for handling strays, we reached out to them last fall when King County announced it would close its shelter. PAWS feels confident we can handle the number of animals from these communities, while still providing the high-quality care we give the animals at our shelter today.

PAWS has always strongly believed in collaboration as the best way to achieve a humane community and create a safety net for abused, unwanted and lost pets. We are glad we were able to fill an important need in this region.

It is also important to note, that PAWS has not entered into negotiations with any other King County city nor with the County itself to take in animals from other areas. As many of you know, we already provide sheltering services for unincorporated Snohomish County, Mill Creek, Mukilteo, Lynnwood and Brier.

Stay tuned to the PAWS blog, as we'll make announcements here when everything is finalized. If you have questions about PAWS' role do not hesitate to contact us.

Frito, Adoptable Cat at PAWS in Lynnwood, WA 

Frito is available for adoption at PAWS in Lynnwood, WA.

PAWS recently received a Steller’s Jay who sadly had his head caught in a rat trap.

Steller’s Jays are native birds, with a big attitude. Their feathers are a variety of beautiful vibrant blues. Unfortunately, when first caught in the rat trap, the bird tried to get away by flapping his wings to escape, and then if being in a trap was not painful enough, he fell six feet off the deck that he and the trap were on. After watching this horrifying event, the compassionate homeowner quickly ran out and caught up the jay, removed him from the trap, and brought the jay to the PAWS Wildlife Center.

Wildlife Rehabilitator Carey Fegel was unsure of what to expect when opening the box in our examination room. She thought the jay might be too badly injured to rehabilitate, but was surprised that he flew up from the box he had been resting in when she tried to take him out for a physical examination. Carey quickly caught the bird and noticed immediately that the bird’s neck was bent in an “upside down U” position. Although the bird was looking at the world with a slightly abnormal view, he was not deterred from trying to behave normally. That was a good sign.

The healing process
Stellar's Jay This Steller’s Jay underwent a full examination, including radiographs by our wildlife veterinary team. He did have a minor skeletal defect between the skull and the spine. He was placed on pain medication to make him comfortable and later started a daily routine of physical and massage therapy to help straighten his neck region. After making minor improvements initially, this Jay’s healing has progressed quickly. In the final stages of rehabilitation at PAWS this Jay is now spending time in our outdoor enclosures to buildup his strength and energy, practice foraging for food and exercise his flight muscles.

Although this Steller’s Jay was lucky enough to completely recover from his injuries, many innocent animals, both domestic and wild, are caught in snap traps each year as people try to remove rodents from their residences and businesses. The PAWS Wildlife Center offers many humane solutions to wildlife conflicts which can save you a lot of time, money and frustration in the long run. With the spring season upon us now it is a perfect time to contact us for help with a wildlife problem.

I love reading stories about PAWS adopted animals in their new forever homes and sharing them with staff, volunteers, and now you!

Every month I will be posting updates on adopted cats and dogs from PAWS. So if you are one of those lucky families, send your stories and photos to: catsanddogs@paws.org.


Hi there,

I just wanted to send in some pictures of Maddy, the Australian Shepherd and American Bulldog pup we adopted from PAWS earlier last month. He's just 3 months old this week. We love him so much! Thank you for everything -- we're so glad to have him in our lives.

Katie and Lee

Maddy1 Maddy2

Rover, now known as Maddy, a 3-month-old Australian Shepherd/Bulldog mix adopted February 2010.



Wanted to let you know that Summer has been a wonderful addition to the family. She has settled in quite nicely! She has been enjoying the local trail hikes in Redmond. She did the Marymoor dog park yesterday-- 300 to 400 new friends and she met every one of them. Then she got her first bath at the Ruff House, self-wash in Redmond.

We were glad that Summer adopted us.

Tom, Kim and Summer

Summer Baby Summer

Summer, a 1-year old Australian Cattle Dog/Hound mix adopted February 2010.





Here's Gwennie! The pictures of her and Dozer are from less than 24 hours after we brought her home.  They are definitely little buddies and still very funny to watch. They’re dynamic.

She did great on a walk further than our neighborhood.  She only had a couple accidents the first day (nerves we think)...yesterday was perfect.

Just an update for you guys!


Kiwi Kiwi2


Kiwi, now known as Gwennie, an 8-month-old Rottweiler/Shepherd mix adopted March 2010.







Just took Duke and Toby out on a trail ride with one of the horses here….they are both in heaven….lots of walks and trail rides along with ball & bone chewing time at night.

I know Toby has lost weight and I’m sure Duke has as well.

We love him! He’s just a big sweet guy!


Luke2 Luke

Luke, now known as Duke, a 7-year old Labrador/Weimaraner mix adopted March 2010.