90 posts categorized in "Volunteer"


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

You may wonder what all the chatter is about every morning outside your windows. Well it’s officially breeding season for birds in Washington, and adults have been busily building nests, protecting territories, and trying to attract mates for weeks.

With the onset of the breeding season comes the opening of the baby bird nursery (pictured below) at PAWS Wildlife Center. Last year alone we successfully raised and released over 160 baby songbirds encompassing 20 different species. So far this year, we already have more than 30 chirping, hungry babies to care for.

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The care and survival of these babies is placed in the hands of our wonderful volunteers, who work diligently from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day feeding and cleaning. It's quite a task to keep up with, as different age groups and species of birds require different levels of care.

Some of our patients need to be fed every 15 minutes, others every two hours. Some bird diets consist of seeds while others (like that of the Red-winged Blackbird chick pictured below) consist of insects.

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There's a delicate balance between the type of food, the amount of food, and time in between feedings that has to be managed for each baby bird. And all of these factors play a crucial role in the growth and development of each bird.

Another important factor in raising wild baby birds is the environment they're raised in. Our babies are often paired with conspecifics (others of the same species) or with other species that are similar in their dietary needs.

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Their enclosures are full of native vegetation (see an example above, with Stellers Jay babies) which allows them to learn natural perching and hiding behaviors. In the background, instead of hearing human voices, they hear Northwestern songbird calls recorded by one of our very own volunteers.

With the right amount of food, time and care—combined with the proper environment—our once small, fragile hatchlings grow into strong sub adult birds that are then released back to the wild near where their parents originally set up house.

Want to join our team of Bird Nursery Caretakers? All the info you need is here. 

Found a baby bird in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

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


By Sean Twohy, PAWS Wildlife Center Volunteer

When I signed up to be a volunteer at PAWS Wildlife Center, I had no expectation that I would ever actually see animals. I assumed that volunteers were there to wash dishes and do laundry.

My first day as a volunteer, I peered through the window of an operating room and watched as the staff brushed out the fur of a small woolly bear cub.

The next shift, I held a crow as it was given daily meds, felt a gust of wind from the wings of a Bald Eagle, and scrubbed the shell of a Western Pond Turtle.

Last week, I fed baby squirrels (see picture below). Soon, a flood of other baby animals will arrive and I'll be given new training and new experiences.

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Hands-on Experience & A Shared Goal
PAWS makes it very clear that the number one priority is successfully rehabilitating and releasing wild animals—nothing is more important to each member of the staff. What I quickly realized was that volunteers are seen an integral part of that process.

Volunteers are treated as future co-workers and, wherever possible, staff members take the time to involve them in the process of rehabilitating.

From feeding and cleaning animals, to medicating and providing enrichment activities, the staff works to shape each volunteer into knowledgeable members of the team.

Helping You Help the Environment
Along with receiving amazing amounts of hands-on training, volunteers are encouraged to use their time at PAWS to facilitate goals and guide their passions. Internships are available for a wide variety of objectives and the staff is eager to see every volunteer achieve their goals.

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Volunteering at PAWS is a chance to gain real experience while doing something important for wildlife. From the beginning, PAWS has stepped up to provide me with means to reach my goals.

Pictured, right (images by students at The Arts Institute of Seattle): whether it's through DIY, dog cuddling, laundry or lost and found support, volunteers contribute so much to PAWS! 

From working with wildlife to writing, they have given me—and created for me—opportunities to grow, both as a professional and as a member of the community.

I have only been here a little over three months, and can already see my strengths being leveraged and nourished. While the immediate gratification of working with wildlife and helping the environment is amazing, I am even more humbled by PAWS’ larger commitment to the future of its staff and volunteers.

Thanks for this great insight into volunteering at PAWS, Sean! If—after reading this—you're inspired to get involved, follow the links below for more details or email volunteer@paws.org.

Volunteer at PAWS and help make a difference to the lives of our wild neighbors.

Inspired by our work? Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.


By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

It’s standard practice that new arrivals at PAWS are given a quick wash and brush up before they settle into the cat colony or dog kennel that will be a temporary home until their new forever family comes calling.

In the case of one recent kitty, that quick wash and brush up was more of a top-to-toe makeover.

Longfellow 25225414 & adopter Phoebe ROF

Longfellow came to us from Everett Animal Shelter. He was found as a stray, so we don’t really know much about his life – but he was so affectionate it was clear he’d been somebody’s cherished pet for most of his life.

The good news was he’d been neutered – something we’re strong advocates for here at PAWS, particularly in the case of cats who have access to the outdoor life.

The not so good news was that his time as a stray had obviously taken its toll on his good looks. Estimated to be around six years old, Longfellow was suffering with tapeworms, dandruff and had large mats in his beautifully golden fur. 

In spite of his friendliness and—as we discovered—his love of riding on shoulders, without a makeover Longfellow was definitely lacking that “take me home today” appeal.

And that’s where awesome volunteer Rose Silcox stepped in.

The trained and certified cat groomer behind BetterKitty.com, Rose originally joined PAWS as a volunteer at Cat City, and is now “on-call” whenever we have a kitty who really needs a groomer.

Longfellow definitely fitted into that category, and so she set to work!

During his initial veterinary examination—a standard exam for all incoming cats and dogs here at PAWS—our vet clipped some of the mats out. Until, that is, Longfellow became too wiggly to clip anymore!

Longfellow shaved

Rose took it from there and gave him what’s called a “lion cut”.

His body was shaved down to fuzz but the fur was left on his head, lower legs and the tip of his tail (see picture opposite, post-shave).

Some of the mats were so close to Longfellow’s skin, you could see irritation marks underneath where they’d been. We can only imagine it must have hurt to be pet in these places.

After a warm bath, Longfellow was ready to settle into his cat colony and start the search for a new forever family. 

While he dried off, we made sure he was kept warm by temporarily using a kitty sweater – quite the fashion statement (though, from the look on his face in the picture below, we're not sure Longfellow felt the same)!

Longfellow in sweater 2

Needless to say, with his fresh new look, velvety fur, and affectionate nature it wasn’t long before Longfellow’s happy ending arrived in the shape of adopter Phoebe (pictured at top of story)

This kind of grooming can easily cost $70-$90 in a grooming parlor, an expense that can be a barrier to adoption for many. Thanks to the kindness of Rose, restoring Longfellow to his former beauty while in our care, he found his perfect match in no time.

And, given how much he craves human contact, Phoebe should have no problem maintaining his freshly-shaved coat as it grows back!

Do you have a skill/service you think might help cats, dogs or wildlife in our care? We’d love to hear from you! Email us.

Looking for your perfect match? See who's waiting at PAWS.

Make a donation and help us continue creating happy endings for companion animals in need.

 


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

The hustle and bustle of the spring season has begun at PAWS Wildlife Center, and with it comes a need for more people to help with the daily care of our wild patients. In fact, the number of people we need during spring and summer more than doubles compared with the rest of the year!

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Right now we're caring for twice as many baby mammals as last week, our outdoor enclosures are starting to fill up, and we're putting the finishing touches to our baby bird nursery which will open in May.

Our first veterinarian extern of the season has arrived (pictured right, palpating an eagle patient's wing for a break in between x-rays); she’ll spend the next four weeks working closely with our veterinary team and animal care staff. 

Each year PAWS welcomes veterinarian externs from across the U.S. to participate in and learn valuable wildlife care techniques in our wildlife hospital.

As well as assisting with surgeries, externs receive hands on experience in wildlife ethics, capture and restraint, parasitology, and radiology.

It's a great environment for gaining skills, experience and an insight into caring for a variety of species they may encounter again as their careers develop. 

As things have picked up, our permanent rehabilitation staff have been kept increasingly busy – caring not only for current patients but also for the new patients arriving on a daily basis.

From bobcats and bears who've spent the winter here, to opossum and squirrel babies who are some of our newest patients, there are all manner of feeding, cleaning, and care schedules to oversee.

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Looks like our seasonal wildlife staff have arrived just in time! Having joined us from wildlife rehabilitation centers across the country, they've begun their training and are quickly getting up to speed on animal care so they can help lighten the load.

In addition to our externs and seasonal staff, the number of volunteers working at the center has also started to increase. Newly-recruited volunteers are being trained every week and shifts are filling up fast. By the end of May we'll have roughly 200 volunteers working at the center on a weekly basis!

We're very fortunate that so many generous, kind people want to spend their free time helping to care for our wild patients. Volunteers are a vital part of animal care here at PAWS, and we couldn’t do what we do without them!

We're excited to bring you more stories about our volunteers and wildlife center patients as the season progresses. In the meantime, if you're interested in getting involved, follow the links below for information on how.

Volunteer at PAWS and help make a difference to the lives of our wild neighbors.

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

Inspired by our work? Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

With daylight savings just around the corner, it's that invigorating time of year when the weather starts to feel warmer and the days are getting longer.Spring is upon us, and with it comes baby season at PAWS Wildlife Center.

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Our dedicated team of wildlife volunteers are very busy right now, preparing our facility for the arrival of our first mammal babies of the year.

Did you know that, every year, PAWS cares for more than 800 baby mammals in our tailor-made mammal nurseries?

The kinds of babies we see brought into our wildlife hospital include flying squirrels (pictured, right), Townsend’s chipmunks and raccoons; just to name a few.

We couldn't care for so many wild animals in need without our volunteers—and, well before the arrival of the first babies, their involvement kicks off with the less cute but just as crucial business of DIY.

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From repairing old wooden hide boxes and building new ones (see Jodi, pictured right, measuring up a new box), to sewing mini hammocks and preparing the deer pen, there's a lot to get ready.

Volunteers also help with setting up and stocking all of the nurseries, building haul outs for the seals, and giving our nursery a fresh coat of paint.

So, who do we expect to be the first patients this year?

Squirrels are typically the first baby mammals to arrive, in the early spring. 

When they arrive they're small and still very reliant on mom. Put on a strict feeding schedule they're monitored by our rehabilitation staff, and volunteers are responsible for their feedings and for cleaning their enclosures. 

Everyone works together to keep these babies healthy as they grow, and prepare them for their return to the wild.

If you're inspired by all this activity and would like to get involved, there's still time to sign up and help this baby season! Find out more about volunteering at PAWS and how you can help raise baby mammals this summer.


Inspired by this story? Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.
Found a wild animal? Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

2014 was a very busy and successful year at PAWS Wildlife Center. 

New Years Collage

With your help we treated close to 3,500 patients this year (some are pictured right), 400 more than in 2013.

Several were patients rarely seen at the Wildlife Center including a Northern Goshawk (top right), a Wild Turkey, and an Eared Grebe.

We also received several species we had never treated before including a Steller Sea Lion (bottom right), a Guadalupe Fur Seal (second row right), a Greater Yellowlegs, and a Townsend’s Solitaire.

Caring for all of these patients could not have been done without the dedication of more than 300 volunteers, who donate thousands of hours of their time ensuring our patients are in a healthy environment which aids in their recovery.

As we look back at 2014 we must also give thanks to people like you for continuing to support PAWS and our mission to be a champion for animals by helping all animals in need.

As you ring in the new year in the chilly Pacific Northwest, enjoy an inside look below at one of our winter-over patients—a Rufous Hummingbird, feeding in her tropical enclosure awaiting her spring release. 

Can't see the video? Try watching it on our PAWS Vimeo channel instead.

Happy New Year and thank you again for your continued support in 2015!

 

Found a wild animal? Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.
Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.


By Caitlin Soden, Wildlife Volunteer Program Manager

It’s a pleasure to feature Jodi Gaylord this month! Jodi started volunteering for PAWS just three months ago but she dived right in and quickly became a vital part of the team. Her positive attitude and go get ‘em nature make her such a delight, so I jumped at the chance to find out about her experiences as a PAWS Wildlife Center volunteer.

Here’s what she had to say:

Jodi

How did you come to volunteer for PAWS?
After we moved to Seattle last winter, my husband saw a call for PAWS volunteers in an online newspaper. Knowing how crazy I am about wildlife, he sent me link and I decided to see if PAWS’ philosophies gelled with my own.

What’s it like to be a volunteer with us?
BUSY! There is a lot to do and it always seems like we are racing the clock. With a few key exceptions (squirrels, anyone?), there is not a lot of hands-on animal handling. You have to check the urge to ooh and ahh at these wild patients so I also do a weekly shift at the Companion Animal Shelter.

With so many wonderful organizations to choose from why do you continue to support PAWS?
PAWS makes it easy to give something of yourself. Supporting an organization often means giving financial support, which is critical, but is never as personally fulfilling as I desire. Knowing that I play even a small part in the rehabilitation and release of a wild animal gives me a deep sense of satisfaction.

Is there anyone specific that has influenced your decision to continue volunteering?
Not any one person but an attitude. There is an atmosphere of “ask me anything” that permeates PAWS Wildlife Center. The staff are eager to share their knowledge and don’t look upon my curiosity as an intrusion.

What is the most fun you’ve had at PAWS Wildlife Center?
Cleaning the raccoon silos. Their intense curiosity makes them so much fun to observe. You can almost see their brains working as they explore their surroundings, including trying to figure out what that funny thing is we call a “broom” and attempting to catch raindrops in their paws.

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
Appropriately enough, I am a wildlife and landscape photographer - my husband and I run City Escapes Nature Photography. Otherwise, I lead a pretty stereotypically-domesticated life. I read like crazy, knit, crochet and bake. I am learning to play an instrument and live to spoil my husband.

What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t have a pet! I grew up with many animals including goats, chickens and even a cockatiel that flew into our house and set up shop, but my husband is terribly allergic. I share my love of wildlife with him through our travels since you really shouldn’t be getting close enough to an elephant or polar bear for your allergies to kick in.

Inspired by Jodi? Become a PAWS volunteer today and help keep Washington State wildlife thriving!
No spare time to volunteer? There's another way you can help us continue helping wild animals in need. Donate now.
Find out more about wildlife rehabilitation at PAWS.


By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

The Foster Care Program here at PAWS saves more than 1,600 animals every year and ensures that every dog and cat brought to us, no matter how small or in need, gets that second chance at life.

Emily and Ray

In this feature, we go behind the scenes with foster care volunteer Emily Garwood—who's been part of our dedicated team for seven years—and find out what she loves about being a foster mom for animals in need. 

What does your role involve?
I foster cats and kittens. I already have a cat and a dog (Ray, pictured with Emily opposite), so for me it's just adding one more to the mix and sharing my bathroom for a couple of weeks (that's where I home my foster animals for the most part).

PAWS provides all the medication and veterinary needs for the animal. I supply food, water, litter and love!

What made you decide to get involved at PAWS?
I moved to Seattle in September 2003 and didn't know a single person. I decided to find an organization to volunteer for, thinking that I would meet people that had some of the same interests as me. My love of animals drew me to PAWS.

Tell us some of your favorite things about fostering.
I love knowing that I had a part in helping an animal on their journey to finding a forever home. Getting to really spend time with the animals is an honor, and I love helping potential adopters get a better idea of the true personality of animal. They can be so different in a home setting, away from the shelter.

And kittens... how else can you have kittens as much as you want?!

What are some of the challenges involved in fostering?
Sometime bad things happen, an animal is really sick or a kitten doesn't make it without its mother. I cry but I always trust PAWS staff to make the right and humane decision. 

How do you feel when it’s time to give your foster furries back?
It's hard but I also know that if I keep this one, I can't help the next one.

What makes a good foster caregiver?
A big heart and lots of love. Also being realistic, knowing that you will fall in love with the animals you care for but you can't keep them all.

Wobbles-E-Appeal-Main-Image,-Oct-22-2014 Share one of your favorite foster animals.
Recently I fostered Wobbles (pictured right), a cat who came to PAWS with a broken pelvis that meant strict cage rest for about 2 months.

Knowing that I was able to help him to heal and be put up for adoption is an amazing feeling. I know someone will be able to look past his special needs and see the great cat he is.

What advice would you give to anyone considering fostering for PAWS?
Try it! It doesn't take a lot and you make a huge difference.

What do you do when you’re not fostering?
I'm a nanny full time for three children under 4. I love to cook, bake, read and travel, exploring new places and seeing new things.

Inspired by Emily? Join our Foster Care Team today.

No spare time to volunteer? There's another way you can help us. Donate now.

Find out what happened to four orphaned puppies who were cared for by the Foster Care team this summer. 


By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to our adorable adoptables, it can mean the difference between a few days or a few months of patiently waiting for the perfect forever family to walk through our shelter door.

Angie-McMeins-and-Sadie

In this month’s Volunteer Spotlight, we talk to Angie McMeins (pictured right, with Sadie). She's one of several talented Web Team photographers who kindly give their time and expertise to capturing that perfect moment for each and every PAWS adoptable.

What led you to get involved at PAWS?
I’ve always wanted to work in animal rescue but never had the time when I had to work full time to support myself, a mortgage and three pets. I worked in corporate advertising for years and it was unrewarding work that didn’t fulfill my creative needs. Now, I’m lucky to have a supportive husband and the opportunity for a “second chance” in life.

When I looked at the volunteer opportunities at PAWS and saw I could be a photographer, the decision was a no brainer. I’ve combined my education and life experience with two of my passions: photography and animals!

Tell us some of your favorite things about your role at PAWS.
I absolutely love working with the animals, they are why we’re here. Even if I’m not feeling my best, I can come in and get some 'fur therapy' and go home with a smile. Photographing rescue animals is the most challenging (and the most rewarding) thing I’ve ever done. I've also made some great friends, I always feel at home when I’m at PAWS.

Talk us through a typical shift.
I work with shelter staff to compile a list of animals that need to be photographed, and then off I go! We have many adopters who drive a long way to meet our animals based on the photos we post online, so our focus is to get the best possible photos of each animal and help someone fall in love with them.

What do you do when you’re not at PAWS?
Besides photography, my passion is scuba diving. Anyone who thinks taking topside (what we divers call 'land') photos is difficult should try shooting underwater loaded down with dive gear, paying attention to dive time and depth, while chasing down a constantly moving fish not remotely interested in posing! As for work, I started a pet sitting business several years ago. I’m also an avid reader, and I love to cook, garden and spend time outdoors, usually with a camera in hand!

Jack-collage

What are you hoping for when you come to take a photo of an animal available for adoption?
My hope is that my photos might help an animal get adopted more quickly. I hope for good lighting, a calm animal, dry ground (since I often lay down to get at eye level) and a place where I can shoot uninterrupted. However, hopes and reality often differ, so I just take it one animal at a time and try to get the best photos I can.

I want to minimize their stress, give them a break from the kennel, let them smell things and hopefully get a few good pictures. I know I’ve nailed a photo when I see it and my heart skips a beat. When that animal gets adopted quickly, it’s the best feeling in the world.

What are the specific challenges of photographing shelter companion animals?
Where do I start?! Besides bad weather and bad lighting, I’m dealing with confused, stressed animals who don’t understand why they’re in this strange, loud environment. They don’t know me, and a lot of them are scared of the camera.

I often try to spend time with them before I even try to take a picture; give them some treats, let them smell me, let them hear my voice, maybe give a scratch behind the ears if they’ll let me.

If I’m successful in winning their trust, then I start taking photos - hanging onto the leash with one hand and operating the camera with the other, all while figuring out how to get them to look at me, to stop licking the lens, to stop stealing hot dogs out of my treat bag, to stop trying to chase that squirrel! 

Take Jack (pictured right) for example. In typical beagle fashion, he was far more interested in treats than in being cooperative for the camera. Taking photos of him was a challenge as he was either in the process of barking or just finished barking with a funny look on his face. I finally did get a nice photo of his beautiful brown eyes and soft velvety ears.

Any funny moments to share?
My funniest PAWS moment actually involves kittens. I love going in the cat colony room at PAWS in Lynnwood since I can photograph several cats at once and get some kitty love at the same time. This particular day, I was trying to take photos of a cat that was more interested in smelling my shoes than looking at the camera, so I sat down on the floor to get a better angle.

All of the sudden, I feel a “thump” on my back. A kitten had jumped on me and was climbing up my back! As I was twisting to try to get the kitten, I felt a leg go down the back of my pants! So by this time, the first cat had stopped smelling my shoes and crawled in my lap, the climbing kitten had managed to crawl up my braid and was sitting on my head (memo to self, don’t wear long hair in a style that cats can climb!), and a third cat had its leg down my pants.

I just sat on the floor covered in cats and laughed until I cried. I’m really glad no one was around, I’m sure I would have ended up on YouTube!

As for taking good animal photos, here are Angie’s top tips:

Focus on the eyes: The eyes are the story, they show the animal's personality, their feelings, their soul. You don’t have to show the entire animal, focus on the essence of that animal and let their story speak for itself.

Get on their level: Don’t look down on them, lay down on the ground or the floor and see the world the way they do. Try some unique angles, maybe shooting below their nose or through a bush. This leads to much more interesting results.

Angie-and-Draco

Be patient: Photographing animals is challenging in any circumstance but animals in a shelter add a new dimension. Spend the time making them comfortable, have treats, love on them, let them walk around. I’ve spent an hour with one frightened hyperactive dog, and ended up getting fantastic photos. We are there to get the best photos we can, don’t rush the process.

What would you say to anyone interested in photography at PAWS?
Sign up for volunteer orientation now! We’re always looking for new talented people to join us. It doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur enthusiast or a pro, or what kind of equipment you use. All you need is a love for animals, a passion for photography and a heart of gold.

We also need handlers to assist our photographers in getting the animals out for photos, holding and positioning them, and giving treats or playing with the animal to get them to interact. Make a difference and join us in our mission of helping animals at PAWS find their forever homes.

Thanks for this fascinating insight into photography at PAWS Angie – we couldn’t do what we do without you and our wonderful Web Team!

Inspired by Angie? Become a PAWS volunteer today.
No spare time to volunteer? There's another way you can help us. Donate now.
October is National Adopt A Shelter Dog Month and we're celebrating! Check out our adoption special for adult dogs 7yrs+.

By Amy Webster, Community Education Coordinator

So long summer, hello fall!

Summer had an amazing finish with PAWSwalk on September 6, a spectacular, fun, sunny day filled with passionate animal lovers and dogs of every shape and size.

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Thank you again to the generous sponsors, dedicated walkers, volunteers and event goers who made this such a successful event and memorable day.

We also enjoyed seeing you at the Puget Sound Birdfest and the Monroe Swift Night Out. Both were wonderful celebrations for bird enthusiasts and nature lovers.

 

Our Service Learning Workshops continue to be a great way for youth to volunteer their time to help the animals at PAWS.

We’re also starting a club for teens and will be holding an information meeting for those interested in learning about PAWS and how they can make a difference for animals. 

Sign-up to learn more about all our youth volunteer opportunities.

With the start of the new school year, our educators will be delivering lessons of compassion and responsible care for animals in classrooms and the community.

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October will include visits to Picnic Point Elementary in Edmonds and South Shore K-8 in Seattle. 

Interested in having PAWS visit your child’s school? Here’s the complete list of presentations we offer.

We look forward to seeing you in your community soon!

Help educate others in animal welfare and humane education—volunteer.

Help us continue inspiring the humane educators of the future—make a donation to PAWS.

Keep up to date with all our event news—follow our Events blog.