12 posts categorized in "Education"

By Katie Amrhein, Community Education Coordinator

Frogs, bears, kittens, and owls. Hummingbirds, otters, raccoons, and dogs. What better way to celebrate Earth Day than by celebrating all of the furried, feathered, finned and scaled animals we share this world with?

At PAWS, we are people helping animals. In order to truly help animals, we also need to love and help the earth. In celebration of Earth Day 2017, some fourth grade students in the PAWS Kids Who Care education program would like to share some ways we can all make this world a better place for animals, people, and the environment.

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Interested in helping in other ways? Consider donating to support PAWS.

By Kate Marcussen, Community Education Coordinator

I never thought life would come to spending Friday nights in the roofing aisle of the home improvement store deciding which type of roof my cats would like best. Many people may consider this a strange preferred Friday night outing, but for me, it was the ultimate in excitement because we were finally building our very own catio!

For those who are unfamiliar with the phenomenon, a catio is an outdoor enclosure for cats. They have become a popular way to provide outdoor time for cats that is safe for pets and wildlife.

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Building a catio had always been on the ever so long “to do” list. Providing our two rescue cats, Tommy and Benjamin, with the opportunity to go outside and enjoy fresh air, while staying safe, was a must. It was also very important to us to protect the wonderful wildlife that visits our yard, especially the birds. Our resident Spotted Towhee particularly dislikes the cats as he follows the cats while they are outside on leashes, no more than 5 feet behind at all times, scolding them with alarm calls.

We set out to build a DYI catio. With access to basic tools such as a hand drill and miter saw, we knew that it could be done. We aimed to stick to a goal of spending under $200. The catio would be connected to a basement level window so the cats would have easy access. We drew up a plan of a 9-foot-long, 2-feet-wide and 2.5-feet-tall window box.

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Then we hit the aisles of the home improvement store. To be budget conscious we used wood 2x4's and 4x4's for the structure’s frame. We chose hardware cloth to use as fencing for its durability, clean and simple design, and low cost. For the roof we wanted polycarbonate, but it didn’t come in 9-foot pieces. After debating if we could fit the 12-foot long size pieces in the car (who were we kidding?) we decided to go with two smaller sizes that we could overlap.

The building process took us a couple of long weekends, a couple more trips back to the home improvement store, and a total of $172.63. After painting the catio to match the exterior house color it was time to get it into place. In a fit of excitement, I actually made us do this at 7:00 p.m. on a weeknight with headlamps on!

As I opened the downstairs window for the cats to enter their new digs, they cautiously looked up at me with expressions of “wait I can go outside alone?!” They both jumped out into the catio and paraded up and down the catwalk with tall, confident tails wiggling with excitement.

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Tommy and Benjamin still struggle with the idea of a cat door and the realization that they need to use their heads to push the door open. But after finally pushing through, they come running back inside, wild from the crisp air and they proceed to run laps around the house in delight. I’d say all the late nights in spent at the hardware store were well worth it, and something tells me that the Spotted Towhee would agree.

You can see this catio along with many others and learn more about why catios are such a great option for keeping cats and wildlife safe during Catio Tour Seattle 2017! Register now

Want to know more about our education programs? Find out here

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By Katie Amrhein, Community Education Coordinator

As I sat down in my chair with a strong cup of coffee, notebook and pen in hand, I knew I had an important day ahead of me. It was Humane Lobby Day, a chance for animal advocates from around the region to meet and speak with state representatives and senators about the bills and topics most important to us.

Navigating the Washington State Capitol campus in Olympia, I found myself in awe. It is not often that someone like myself, who spends most of my days surrounded by children eager to learn about animals, gets to sit down across from a Washington State Senator.

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However, lo and behold, when you bring up the topic of animals, the stories unfold. A legislative assistant enthusiastically shared about the cats she has adopted from PAWS over the years. One Senator adopted her favorite dog from PAWS. Through these stories, it becomes clear that animal welfare topics are bipartisan issues. Everyone has a story, and the importance of taking the time to listen and share cannot be overlooked.

Animal welfare issues are incredibly important to us here at PAWS, and we make sure that our legislators and policy makers know that. However, we cannot do it alone. By taking the time to voice your opinion, you are engaging with your elected officials so they can best represent you and your positions.

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Visit your local representatives and senators in Olympia, give them a call, write a letter, or send them an email. Check out our Legislative Watch for information about the bills that PAWS is supporting that can directly improve the lives of animals. Take a look at our Action Toolkit for specific ways that you can get involved.

By supporting humane legislation, we can work to help animals through positive, powerful legislation.

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue championing for animals in need.

Inspired to take action for animals? Here are some suggestions for things you could do

Want to keep up to date with our news? Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter

 

By Kate Marcussen, Community Outreach Educator

Ever heard that saying “you can’t teach an old dog a new trick?” Well here at PAWS we’d have to disagree. You’re never too old to learn!

2017 is our 50th anniversary year, and even after all those years of caring for more than 245,000 animals, we are still learning new things. Our expert staff and volunteers strive to keep up on emerging best practices in the fields of wildlife rehabilitation, companion animal welfare and education, and we realize that education within our community is just as important as within the organization.

Education programs at PAWS don’t just focus on kids, we aim to keep our adult community just as informed. These  community education events for adults cover a wide variety of topics aimed at keeping you up to date on best practices. Having a little fun is also mandatory!

Cooking with PAWS: Go Vegan held for the first time last March educated participants about animal friendly diets and their connection to animal welfare through a hands-on cooking demonstration with a local chef, including a tasting. If you missed it, you can download the recipes.

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Cat Behavior 101 and 201 continue to be our most popular adult events. Well, we all know our feline friends have very high expectations of their people! Participants learn about how to better understand their pampered felines, including how to solve common household challenges such as litter box usage and introductions to new pets and people.

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Baby on Board held at Brightwater Environmental Center last April was a fabulous introduction to baby season at PAWS Wildlife Center. Presented by our very own naturalist and wildlife expert, Jen Mannas, participants learned about what it takes to care for orphaned wildlife patients at PAWS, how to provide “baby proof” habitat in your own backyard, and how to know if a baby animal needs help and when to leave them alone.

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Looking to the future now, and fast approaching on January 25 (6-7 p.m.), we’re excited for Forever Fido—the perfect event for any dog lovers in the Seattle area. Our canine behavior expert, Caren Malgesini, will provide tips on ensuring your dog is living the happiest, healthiest life possible, and she’ll also answer any canine questions you might have. Held at Seattle’s Dogwood Play Park, your four legged friend is also invited! Register for this event today!

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Author Tim Johnson captured it perfectly with “There is no end to learning, but there are many beginnings.” Whether you strive to be the best pet parent to your dog or cat, or to provide that dream backyard habitat for our wildlife, keep learning, as you can never know too much.   

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Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today

By Katie Amrhein, Community Outreach Educator

'Twas several nights before Christmas, and all throughout PAWS, homeless dogs and cats are finding new homes in time for the holidays, while our overwintering wildlife patients are safe in the care of our dedicated rehabilitators.

There's also an animal out there who's working harder than ever during the holiday season and who—though rarely given a second thought by most adults—is on the minds of many of the kids we're welcoming to our education programs right now.

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When fourth grade students in a recent Kids Who Care program were asked to choose a favorite animal and consider how to meet that animal's basic needs, most students chose an animal like an owl, squirrel or cat.

One student chose a reindeer. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, to be precise.

He may seem like a fictional creature to you, but to some kids, Rudolph is the epitome of an amazing animal who we share the world with. After all, he has the same basic needs as all other animals. He needs food (carrots), water (normal water), shelter (North Pole), family (Mrs. and Mr. Santa Clause), space (horse’s barn), and exercise (running in the air).

Reindeer drawing

So, this holiday season, remember all the creatures, big and small, who we share the world with. And consider how all of these different animals can provide opportunities for kids to connect with them and want to help.

Whether it be the squirrel in your backyard, the dog curled up at your feet, or the reindeer flying through the night sky on Christmas Eve, let's celebrate the ways kids and adults show compassion and help animals.

If you feel inspired to give, consider donating to support our education programs, such as Kids Who Care.

You can find out more information about scheduling a Kids Who Care program in your school here.

Find out more about Scout Programs and other engaging activities for young people at PAWS.


By Kate Marcussen, Educator

Most visitors to PAWS are looking to adopt a new family member or are lending a helping hand to a wildlife patient in need. But there’s another group that frequents the PAWS campus as well. They might be small, but they sure are mighty. Kids!

Since the start of the year, 720 kids have participated in education programs at PAWS to learn more about companion animals and their local wildlife. What do they do while they are here? Take a glimpse into the world of kids at PAWS

Each program tours our shelter to visit the cats and dogs waiting to find their forever home, or stops over at our wildlife hospital lobby to take a peek at our current patients through live hidden cameras. 

EducationTour_KSAbove: Kids enjoying a tour of our companion animal shelter

Through games, activities, and imaginative play, kids learn about the responsibilities of having a pet, and how to be kind and gentle towards each and every one. 

They even help the dogs and cats at PAWS be adopted! By creating mini advertisements highlighting an animal’s best features, they draw the eyes of potential adopters to their kennel.

Poster+ROertelAbove: Learning how to be gentle with cats (L). and a mini advertisement for an adorable adoptable (R)

Hands-on experience with wildlife biofacts gives kids a chance to explore wild animals up close and learn about what makes these creatures so awesome.

As backyards go, ours is the perfect place for an adventure! Kids learn about what wild animals need in their habitat in order to survive, and how they can help.

Artifacts+BackyardAbove: Examining biofacts (L) and exploring PAWS' backyard (R)

They even get to pretend to be wildlife rehabilitators, and when provided with the right vet tools, major surgery has been known to take place...

Injured-StuffiesAbove: Injured animal stuffies, post-surgery

Have a child in mind who would think “this is the best day ever!”? Visit the kids section of our website to learn more about the programs offered, and take a look at these upcoming programs:

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 | Homeschoolers
Companion Animals are Cool | 10-11:30 a.m. | Ages 7-10

Friday, November 11, 2016 | Schools Out: Veterans Day Program
Animal Superpowers | 1-2:15 p.m. | Ages 6-7
PAWS Champions | 3-4:15 p.m. | Ages 8-10
Preteens Helping Animals | 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. | Ages 11-12 

Want to know more about our education programs at PAWS? Find out here.

Inspired to take action for animals? Here are some suggestions for things you could do.

Keep up to date with our news. Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter.


By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

There are seven species of squirrels that inhabit Washington and PAWS is no stranger to caring for some of these species. We receive hundreds of squirrels every year.

Currently we're caring for more than 75 young squirrels. They begin their care in our small mammal nursery where they are fed by our volunteers. Each squirrel in the nursery has to be fed three to five times a day depending on how old he is. Multiply that by 75 and that calculates to over 225 feedings a day!

Each feeding can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes per squirrel depending on how well they drink from the syringe. During the busiest part of baby squirrel season at PAWS, when we are at squirrel capacity, that equates to over 75 hours of volunteer time, on average, per day. Thanks to our stellar volunteers we are able to feed more than one squirrel at once.

Squirrel_feeding_blog_083116A volunteer syringe-feeds a baby squirrel

Some very special squirrel patients we receive almost every year are Northern Flying Squirrels. Typically we receive youngsters who have fallen from their nest cavity at night and are discovered on the ground the next morning.

They are very tricky eaters and are fed by staff only at first until they get the hang of the syringes. They are small, soft, have large eyes and are a favorite among our volunteers. We only receive two to five each year but they leave a lasting impression.

NFSQ_blog_083116Northern Flying Squirrel patients at PAWS

Here's some information about these inhabitants of the night sky:

They're between 10 and 12 inches long
- They are most active at night
- They have a membrane that connects their front and back legs called a patagium, which allows them to glide (not fly) between trees
- They are omnivores and eat foods including seeds, nuts, fungi, fruit and insects
- They prefer coniferous and mixed coniferous forests
- They are superb gliders making them escape artists from predators
- Their biggest predator is owls, specifically Spotted Owls
- They can live up to five years in the wild
- Their offspring rely on the female for care for two months

And perhaps the most impressive fact of all... they can glide 80 to 150 feet at once!

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.

By Katie Amrhein, Educator

The start of another school year is rapidly sneaking up on us, and with it comes the release of more wildlife patients, a myriad of happy adoption stories at our companion animal shelter, and the return of our education team to classrooms throughout the community.

Our volunteers are also just as busy as ever helping staff care for all the animals who need our help.

Volunteering opportunities at PAWS are available to people who are 18 years of age or older. But we frequently get calls and e-mails from enthusiastic teens asking if there are ways they can get hands on with the work that we do. 

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Usually we talk them through how to organize fundraising drives or help spread awareness of animal welfare issues among family and friends, and encourage them to sign up to volunteer with us when they turn 18.

That is, until now!

We've listened to these animal champions and have developed an exciting new opportunity which enables them to get directly involved in helping animals at PAWS this fall. 

Introducing... our Teens Helping Animals Workshop!

Taking place over the course of two Saturday mornings this fall, September 24 and October 1, this workshop is offered to teens between the ages of 13 and 17.

Participants will have the chance to explore different animal welfare issues facing both wildlife and companion animals - learning about careers helping animals (click this link and the video below to watch two careers videos created at PAWS), meeting other young animal advocates, and working together on projects to create lasting change for animals in the community.


Can't see the video above? Watch it on YouTube instead.

Teens will engage with the work that PAWS does through hands-on service projects and activities, including making enrichment items for our wildlife patients and creating a PSA (Public Service Announcement) to share what they have learned.

What better way to get started helping animals than by signing up for Teens Helping Animals? The first day of the workshop will be held on Saturday, September 24 and has a wildlife focus. The second day, on Saturday, October 1 will focus on companion animals. A program fee of $30 helps cover the cost of the workshop. Space is limited so visit our events page today to register!

Want to know more about our education programs at PAWS? Find out here.

Inspired to take action for animals? Here are some suggestions for things you could do.

Keep up to date with our news. Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter.

By Melissa Moore, Education Programs Manager

With Memorial Day behind us, it seems that summer might finally have arrived.

The education team at PAWS are busy preparing for a new early childhood program for children aged three to five years, scheduling scout badge classes, as well as getting ready for community education classes and outreach events. With our eyes on our computers and our bags packed full of brochures and craft supplies, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s happening outside our window.

Summer means sunshine and playing outdoors, barbeques and baseball, beaches or backpacking. It can be a time of family gatherings and vacations. As you make plans for the upcoming season, I encourage you to not only get outside, but to take a child with you. Introduce them to the beauty in nature and make time to go exploring with them.

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A female Rufous Hummingbird at a Salmonberry flower


Rachel Carson
, groundbreaking author of Silent Spring (1962) said, “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” 

We all spend too much time in front of electronic screens, interacting with keyboards. It would be good for us to get outdoors. Time spent outdoors can help counteract some current childhood issues like obesity and decreased attention span. In adults, time outdoors has even been linked with increased creativity and improved moods.

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Perhaps the most important reason to get outdoors is to observe the wonders of the natural world and to better understand the beings that live around us.  

This morning, as I took my dogs outside before work, I saw a beautiful (and tiny) flash of yellow and red in the trees outside of my house. A brilliant little bird glanced my way briefly, then zipped into the trees and a loud chorus of chirping played for several seconds where he disappeared.

A moment later the chorus stopped and the little bird was back on his tree limb. Right there, above my head, a Western Tanager had fed his nest of babies!

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Western Tanager


A family of birds was going about their lives, raising their children, and probably enjoying the sunshine as much as I was. I felt as though I had shared a short moment with this beautiful creature, and you can bet I’ll be watching for him and his brood every morning from now on!

As I entered the reality of my day, I also realized that it’s moments like this that motivate every youth education program that I present. At PAWS we strive to help children experience moments of connectedness with other beings. These moments are the seeds of empathy, the ability to understand the world through another animal’s eyes. Empathy leads to kindness and compassion, “helping behaviors” in the words of psychologists.

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Great Blue Heron


I think Rachel Carson may have had this in mind when she wrote, ”The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” 

We couldn’t agree more, and hope to see you outdoors this summer!

Sources:
ChildrenandNature.org
Conserving Land; Preserving Human Health by Howard Frumkin, M.D., and Richard Louv
Psychology Today

By Kate Marcussen, Community Outreach Educator

Summer is almost upon us. We’re eagerly awaiting the warm sun beaming down on our skin, the breeze blowing through our hair, and the smells of summer. You know who else is eagerly awaiting this? Your cat.

Catio cats lounging sun

Our feline friends appreciate the great outdoors almost as much as we do. But for these furry friends, the outdoors can bring more danger than pleasure. The average lifespan of an outdoor cat is only two to three years, whereas indoor-only cats can live 15 to 20 years. Outdoor cats face dangers that include traffic, poison, disease, and run-ins with other animals. High veterinary bills for treatment can also cause stress on households.

Keeping our cats inside not only provides them with a long, healthy and happy life, but it also helps our wildlife. Cats pose a major threat to wildlife as these super-predators, well fed, rested and cared for, can be responsible for countless injuries and deaths of birds and small mammals. Our wildlife hospital at PAWS receives many patients suffering from cat attack injuries each year.

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Baby birds are one example of wild patients often brought to PAWS as a result of a cat attack.


Catios, or enclosed outdoor patios for cats, can offer a safe solution for cats and wildlife and are ultimately a great way to provide your cat with safe outdoor time. The addition of a catio to your property can provide fresh air, exercise and endless opportunities for your cat to soak up the sun, as well as enjoy birds and wildlife from a safe distance. Catios can come in all shapes and sizes, from simple window boxes, to elaborate free-standing shelters with tunnels leading from the house safely out to the catio.

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Catio tour outdoor enclosure

Interested in seeing a catio in person? Join PAWS for our annual Catio Tour Seattle on Saturday, May 21, from noon to 4 p.m. Eleven catios around the Seattle area will be open to meet some cat-loving homeowners and their lucky felines, and tour their catio up close. Hear firsthand their inspiration for building a catio and their unique approaches to building the right catio for their cat, home and budget. Let the cats do the talking when it comes to showing off their prime feline real estate and all of the pleasures of the outdoors that it provides them.

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Catio Tour Seattle will feature catios from Bothell to West Seattle. Visit one or all 11 catios. To register for this year’s tour, visit the Catio Tour Seattle website.