As an Oceanographer, Dale Ripley knows everything there is to know about creatures under the sea. But when it came to land-dwelling animals, Dale had a lot to learn when he started as a volunteer at PAWS.
“I went to my first volunteer orientation with the thought of working with dogs and cats at the shelter, learning about different breeds. But then they mentioned the PAWS Wildlife Center, and the idea of working with native wildlife intrigued me. A lot of people know about PAWS, but not necessarily that they have a wildlife rehab program.”
Dale will be the first to tell you that life as a PAWS Wildlife Center volunteer isn’t always clean or easy—but it sure can be funny!
"The task of collecting squirrels out of the small mammal enclosure is absolutely hilarious,” says Dale with a grin. “They’re racing all around the cage, and you have to grab them. Picture a bunch of staff and volunteers running around, chasing squirrels with a net in a 10x10 enclosure. It’s hilarious pandemonium."
The work is also incredibly rewarding, says Dale. “Feeding the young mammals, like Raccoons and possums, is amazing. You have to be so careful with them because they’re so small, barely just born. It’s rewarding to know you’re giving them a chance at life.”
Outside of PAWS, Dale is an avid snorkeler—even in the freezing waters of Puget Sound. He’s met some incredible creatures along the way, including a face-to-face encounter with a three-foot-long Barracuda!
Thank you for your passion and commitment to the animals, Dale. Your dedication and hard work are truly appreciated, and we’re grateful to have you as a PAWS volunteer.