97 posts categorized in "Volunteer"


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 JaneA Kelley, PAWS Staff

Do you want to spend your Friday or Saturday evenings volunteering with animals?

Wait, before you click away, let us tell you a bit about the importance of volunteers—who we rely on seven days a week, 365 days a year—and share with you some stories of PAWS volunteers who take those weekend night shifts.

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Photo by Benjamin Fry

Last year at PAWS, more than 8,200 cats, dogs and wild animals were brought to us in need of help. We couldn’t have assisted these animals in finding homes or returning to the wild without the help of our volunteers.

More than 800 volunteers contributed a staggering 63,176 hours (the equivalent of 7.2 years!) to helping us in 2015.

You might be surprised to know that even with all this volunteer support, we still need more. This is particularly true for our weekend shifts. While walking dogs and tending to wildlife might not seem like the perfect way to start the weekend, Tom, who has been serving as a Friday-night dog walker for a year now, would like to tell you otherwise.

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“I really do enjoy the shift and find it a convenient, satisfying way to cap off the traditional work week,” Tom says. “I like to think of the Friday shift as ‘PAWS Happy Hour’ since not only does it coincide with human Happy Hour, it's busy and fun and the doggies are very happy to have their dinner and go for an evening stroll in the woods.”

If you’d like to spend your happy hour with our companion animals  we desperately need more Friday night dog walkers, and also kennel attendants, who deal with every aspect of a dog’s life at PAWS. Which is one of the really rewarding aspects of volunteering out of hours. It’s just you and them, and you’re making a very real impact on a dog’s life. That can be a special experience.

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Helping dogs on the night shift still leaves plenty of time to connect with friends and family. Most volunteers at our shelter leave by 6 or 7 p.m. “That’s still pretty early in the scheme of a weekend,” Tom says, “so people have plenty of time to head out for a movie or dinner.”

If you’re more interested in taking a weekend walk on the wild side, we are always looking for more volunteer wildlife care assistants to fill Friday and Saturday night shifts during our busy season (6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m., April through September). Crucial to maintaining continuity of care for our patients, wildlife care assistants get involved with feeding and final checks on patients.

Randi has been volunteering with PAWS for more than 12 years and always takes an evening shift at our wildlife center in the summer. “I like the late shift because there’s a smaller team and you get to interact more closely with your shift mates and the rehabbers,” she says, adding that even though there’s a lot to do, it’s a great shift because time moves quickly when you’re busy and enjoying your fellow volunteers’ company.

750-wl volunteer

Jennifer, another volunteer at our wildlife center, says that the evening shift allows her to fit her volunteer interests into her regular work schedule. “For me the volunteer tasks are a welcome break from my regular desk job and I am given the opportunity to learn and experience things I would not in my day to day life,” she says. “There is a good energy to the evening shift despite how busy it often is, the feel is very laid back; you are winding the shelter down for the night and preparing for the next morning.”

Why not join “PAWS Happy Hour” and volunteer with us on a Friday or Saturday night? By the time you are finished with your shift, there will still be plenty of time to enjoy a night out with friends or spend a relaxing evening at home. And, as Tom says, “It sends you off into the weekend feeling good.”

Are you interested in volunteering with PAWS? Learn how to get started.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

Do you love birds? Have you ever wanted to help bird researchers but you weren’t sure how you could?

Pacific Wren, PAWS Campus 040412 KM

Well now’s your chance. The annual Christmas Bird Count runs from December 15 through January 5. For the last 115 years, citizen scientists like yourself have conducted a bird census across the western hemisphere. The data from this important census helps researchers better understand how our bird populations are doing and how their populations are being affected by our changing world. Data from this census has already been used in more than 200 peer-reviewed articles.

Varied Thrush, PAWS Campus 020713 KM-21

The Christmas Bird Count started on Christmas Day in 1900 when scientists were starting to become concerned about declining bird populations. Ornithologist Frank M. Chapman proposed a Christmas bird census that would count birds during the holiday season rather than the traditional side hunt -- a competition in which teams of hunters went into the woods with rifles to kill birds and small game -- which was conducted each Christmas.

Christmas bird count-world map
Image courtesy of Audubon


What started out as 27 birders conducting 25 surveys from Toronto to Pacific Grove, CA has turned into 72,000 bird enthusiasts conducting surveys in over 2,400 locations across the Western Hemisphere.

Participation is free and bird lovers of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to participate. Each count takes place in an established 15-mile-wide circle on one day between December 15 and January 5 and is organized by a count compiler. Volunteers follow a specified route in that area, counting every bird they see or hear.

Christmas bird count-WA map
Image courtesy of Audubon


If helping from home is more your speed, you can do so if your home is within the boundaries of a Christmas Bird Count circle. From Bellingham south to Olympia there are 19 survey circles, including two in the San Juan Islands and several others on the Olympic Peninsula. If you’ve made prior arrangements with the count compiler in charge of your area, you can report birds that visit your backyard habitat or feeder.

To get involved, register your email address on the Audubon Christmas Bird Count website and they will send you links and information on how to choose your census circle and how to sign up.

For more information about the Christmas Bird Count, check out these websites:

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 Anne Heron, PAWS Wildlife Center Intern

I’ve been volunteering at PAWS Wildlife Center for over a year now. I initially started at PAWS because I was familiar with their Companion Animal Shelter, where my family adopted our dog, and I had been developing an interest in wildlife. I’d heard great things about the Wildlife Center so I decided to become a volunteer and see if it was something I would like. Now, I’m just about to finish my summer internship and I’ve really enjoyed my time at PAWS. I feel I’ve grown tremendously since I started as a volunteer, knowing little about wildlife, to now being trained in just about every area of the Wildlife Center.  

This summer I spent my time between three internships: wildlife rehabilitation, avian wildlife rehabilitation, and wildlife releases. Each one was unique and offered its own skills and experiences.  

Peregrine Falcon Handling 07032015 JM (8)

In wildlife rehabilitation I learned basic skills like administering daily medications and fluids, as well as preparing various diets. I would say that this aspect of the wildlife center had the most variety. I found myself doing so many different things in one day ranging from cleaning to daily medical care to grounds maintenance projects. This is also where I interacted with the most species and got a lot of practice with my handling skills, which was my favorite part about Wildlife Care Assistant work.

Dark-eyed Junco nestlings-BBN

As an avian wildlife rehabilitation intern I was in charge of the baby bird nursery. My duties included administering medications and fluids, keeping the feeding board and cage cards updated, and monitoring the health of each bird. I also learned different techniques and methods for handling and feeding different bird species based on size, as well as the different diets associated with each species. 

I really love birds so my favorite part about the baby bird nursery was being able to see all of the different types of birds that came in, being able to identify them, and learn what enclosure set-ups and diets are particular to each species.  

Peregrine Falcon Release-02

Being an intern for the naturalist was by far my favorite position at PAWS. It allowed me to see a different side of wildlife rehabilitation and helped me think more about what happens to the animals we care for after they’re released. Some of my duties included accompanying the naturalist and rehabber on their rounds to determine which patients were ready for release, locating release sites for patients based on proximity to the location they were found and resources available at that site, and helping the naturalist with releases.  

This was the most interesting internship to me because it allowed me to learn a lot about each species and how they interact with their environment. It gave another dimension to wildlife rehabilitation that you don’t usually think about while caring for each patient in the center.

Osprey 152722 Release -01

The reason I chose to intern in so many different areas was to explore my career interests. I knew I wanted to work with wildlife but wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do. Now after experiencing everything this summer, I know that while I really enjoy the medical and handling aspect of wildlife rehabilitation, I want to learn more about field and naturalist work because I love learning about the natural history of each species and seeing how they interact with the world, and I also really enjoy animal behavior as well as observing animals in the field. I’m so grateful for the experience I’ve had as a PAWS intern. 

I know that all of the skills and information I’ve learned here will be of use to me in my future and I plan on continuing to volunteer in order to keep up with my skills and to keep having valuable encounters with wildlife.

 

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.

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


By Sean Twohy, PAWS Wildlife Center Volunteer

Making wild animals a part of your life can be a rewarding and gratifying experience!

The act of watching birds build a nest or seeing salmon in a stream can provide a sense of connectedness to the world around us – and a welcome break from the day-to-day grind of working in an office (or daily life in a bustling city like Seattle!).

Even more, these interactions lead to a sense of responsibility and community toward the other creatures who share our space. So, how can you make the most of your wildlife watching?

Here are some things to consider:

Keep a safe distance
Keeping enough space between you and wildlife ensures that whatever you’re watching can continue its natural behavior without feeling threatened or disturbed enough to flee.

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Perhaps most importantly, by keeping a respectful distance you will reduce the likelihood of that wild animal becoming habituated to human presence – something that could negatively impact its survival. While there's no set standard, if the animal you’re watching becomes agitated or changes its behavior, you’re probably too close.

Don’t feed your wild neighbors
This can happen accidentally (through leaving garbage bins open or pet food outside) or on purpose; either way, it’s generally best to leave wild animals to find their own food to avoid some of the following problems:

  • The animals start to rely on a food source that may disappear (when you go on vacation)
  • The animals may lose their fear of people (which can disrupt an otherwise peaceful coexistence between wildlife and humans in a particular area or neighborhood)
  • Feeding wildlife can have unforeseen consequences on the environment (did you know that—as well as being unhealthy for them—bread left behind by ducks causes spikes in algae and harmful bacteria, which can kill off fish and make the water dangerous for swimmers?)

Mallard-release-2012,-KS-edit-for-blog

Keep pets away – ideally inside!
Even the most placid and sweet-natured of pets can pose a risk to wildlife (did you know that cats are the number one killer of suburban birds?), and wildlife injuring or even killing our pets can be a distressing fact of life for many living here in the Pacific Northwest.

To enjoy wildlife on your own doorstep, be sure that any pets kept outside are safely enclosed in your yard at all times, and brought in at night. Better still—for cat owners—consider transitioning your feline friend from an outdoor to an indoor lifestyle.

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Provide a natural backyard habitat
While a large green lawn has been the standard of American tradition for some time, it’s not the most enriching environment for wildlife.

If you’d like to have more wild neighbors coming to visit, consider planting borders of native flowers and foliage, don’t sweep up those fallen leaves quite so often, and maximize any sources of moisture such as water features or streams.

Dark-eyed-Junco-on-PAWS-campus,-KS-edit-for-blog

Trees (even dead ones) and native foliage will give birds, bats and other creatures many a useful nesting, resting or hiding spot!

Last but not least… be aware! You’re often closer than you think to a wide variety of wildlife. Keep your eyes and ears open to everything around you, and the animal’s well-being at the forefront of your mind, and your experience with it can be a great one.

Found a wild animal you think needs help? Learn how PAWS can help.

Want to find out more about interacting with wildlife? Read our do's and don'ts online guidance.

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


By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

There’s a lot of dirty work involved in being a cat volunteer at PAWS. From cleaning litter trays and mopping floors, to dishing out cat food and tackling piles of laundry, it takes dedication, patience and—at times—a strong nose!

But talk to any of our dedicated team and it’s more than worth it. Because they get to enjoy the fun stuff too – think cuddles, muffin making, wand toy playing, and purring.

Our adorable adoptables’ way of saying thank you.

In celebration of June's Adopt-a-Cat Month, we asked our volunteers to take a selfie with their favorite adoptable kitty – the ones who have captured their hearts, who they find it hard to tear themselves away from after their shift has ended, and who will stay in their minds long after they’ve found their perfect forever home.

For many, choosing just one cat was a challenge in itself! Here are some of our favorites:

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Amanda & Ophelia (above left): It's hard to resist sweet, outgoing Ophelia when she gives you her signature adorable head tilt, along with a little chirp to say "pet me!"

Dawn & Kate Bosworth (above right): Love this girl. Yes, she can be a little sassy, but she does have that cute cuddling face. HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THOSE CHEEKS!

AACM-Blog-Vol-Faves-Poette,-Peanut-&-Fiona

Hillary & Poette (above left): This gorgeous girl has become pretty outgoing. When you look into her eyes your heart will melt! She's more than just your average black cat. Come visit Poette today and you'll see what I mean!

Les & Peanut (above center): Who loves ya, Peanut? Who doesn't!

Tammie & Fiona (above right): Fiona is a stunning girl with a mind of her own and desire to be an only kitty. She has a playful, attentive independence and infinite spunk!

And—if these glowing reports weren't enough to convince you to adopt right this second—their adoption fees are waived on weekdays in June, thanks to Road to Puppy Bowl funded by Animal Planet and the ASPCA.

Inspired to meet these fabulous felines? Find out more about them here, and start your adoption journey today.


Can’t have a kitty but would like some fur time once in a while?
Sign up to be a volunteer here.
If these kitties in need have touched your heart,
please consider giving to PAWS today.


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.

Sean-feeding-squirrel-KS-web-resize

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.