82 posts categorized in "Volunteer"


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.

PW2014-Start-

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.

#3-Students-with-owl-artifact

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.


By Caitlin Soden, Wildlife Volunteer Program Manager

I'm so excited to feature Dale Ripley for the first edition of our new Volunteer Spotlight blog series! A retired oceanographic engineer, Dale has been a volunteer at PAWS Wildlife Center for almost three years and he's an invaluable member of our team.

#1 Wildlife, Dale Ripley Sept 16 2014

Feeding squirrels or building new and improved animals enclosures, you never know where you’ll find Dale but you do know he’ll be hard at work while still managing to keep the wildlife staff and volunteers enthralled and entertained by countless stories of his many trips around the world.

I recently sat down with Dale to talk about his experiences as a Wildlife Center volunteer. Here’s what he had to say:

How did come to volunteer for the PAWS Wildlife Center?
I was initially interested in the PAWS Companion Animal Shelter where I could learn about different breeds of dog before I adopted one of my own. I attended a New Volunteer Orientation, learned about the Wildlife Center and that was that.

What was your first impression when you came to the Wildlife Center?
Abject Fear!! As an engineer, I was used to working with tools and instruments and suddenly I was being asked to work with live animals. I remember being a bit overwhelmed by the complexity of it all but the staff reassured me it would all get easier eventually. And it did!

What’s it like to be a Wildlife Center volunteer?
Very rewarding! It’s cliché but true is true. We all come here to help animals. They can’t do it on their own so someone’s got to do it.

What have you learned as a Wildlife Center volunteer that you wish other people knew?
Not every animal you see on the ground needs help and there are a ton of resources out there to help you know when they do. Bottom line… call us here at the Wildlife Center so we can help.

With so many wonderful organizations to choose from why do you continue to support PAWS?
I got hooked my first day!

#1-Wildlife,-Dale-Ripley-Sept-16-2014-(2)

Is there anyone specific that has influenced your decision to continue volunteering?
Everyone! The staff and volunteers at the Wildlife Center are fantastic and easy to work with. Everyone is here for the same reason; we want to help animals. That makes it easy to overlook differences.

How does volunteering at the Wildlife Center make you feel?
AWESOME!

What is the most fun you’ve had at the PAWS Wildlife Center?
Catching squirrels up for release back into the wild. Four adults, 12 squirrels… it was a battle of wits!

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
Woodworking, watersports…I used to be a SCUBA diver and now I love to snorkel in Puget Sound.

What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
How old I am! 66!

Thank you for everything you do! Oh, and Dale, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Inspired by Dale? 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 Jen Mannas, Naturalist

“It was the most touching release I have ever done” said Noeleen Stewart, a PAWS staff member. What started out just being a typical hawk release ended up being an event to remember.

At the end of July a rare patient came through the doors at the Wildlife Center; a Cooper’s hawk chick. The chick was found sitting beside a road, estimated to be just a few weeks old and was a female.

Cooper's Hawk 142164 Intake 07282014 JM

On initial examination by our rehabilitation and veterinarian teams, the chick was found to be in good condition despite some mild dehydration. She spent the first few days in our ward under observation to determine whether she could eat on her own, which she could.

She was then moved to one of our outside enclosures with another Cooper’s hawk. There she spent time taking short flights and strengthening her wings. After 33 days in our care she was deemed ready for release.

After speaking to a researcher from the Falcon Research Group we decided to try and release her where she was found; but first we needed to scout out the area for any hawk activity.

As Noeleen was departing PAWS with the hawk, the researcher arrived near the hawk’s point of origin. He started searching and listening for other Cooper’s hawks, hoping that some of the other fledglings or the parents of this little hawk were still near the nest site. He was in luck. Finally, he heard some Cooper’s hawks amongst the trees and knew he was in the right place.

Shortly thereafter Noeleen arrived with the young hawk; she was outfitted with research leg bands for identification and was quickly released. Within seconds of her flying away one of her siblings joined her and landed in a tree next to her. A few seconds later another sibling joined them and all three could be seen in the same tree calling to each other. It was definitely an experience to remember, watching these three hawks reunited again.

It is always important that we release wildlife close to their point of origin. The animals we receive may already have an established territory or like in this case have family nearby. Thanks to this collaboration a family of hawks was reunited and the Falcon Research Group will be able to monitor the released hawk in the future and let us know if she has a nest of her own someday.

Join us on the frontline of wildlife care and rehabilitation - volunteer at PAWS Wildlife Center.

Make a donation and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife at PAWS.

Walk for the animals and help thousands of wild and companion animals receive the care they need at PAWS in the coming year. Join us at PAWSwalk on September 6, 2014.


By Kellie Benz, PAWS Staff

When you see a vista like the one PAWS staff arrived at yesterday it’s hard to imagine wanting to leave. For the release of a PAWS patient that we've come to know as American Black Bear 2014-1317, we hope she agrees!

Teen-Bear-final-sedation-Aug-27

A wildlife release is the best part of a PAWS patient story, however bittersweet, but always rewarding.

This bear’s homebound journey started the night before when PAWS Veterinarians sedated her for her final exam. Once cleared for departure, PAWS staff performed one last task, a weigh in. Final tally, a healthy 151lbs. Good to go!

Once officers from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) arrived to fetch her, PAWS staff and volunteers carried her to her waiting enclosure (pictured, right). There she would sleep off the sedation medication overnight and be ready for the trip north by morning.

At 10am yesterday, PAWS staff and WDFW officers met along Highway 2 and convoyed into the woods, hauling the now wide awake bear up jagged roads and deep into the landscape she will call home.

The story of her recovery and release aired on KOMO TV 4 last night, and their article was posted with more pictures of the quick seconds it took to release American Black Bear 2014-1317. View their photo gallery here.

Teen-Bear---Dash-Away-Aug-28

It’s been a very busy summer here at PAWS, with many of the now recuperated wildlife being returned to the ecosystem where they belong.

It's thanks to donors and PAWSWalkers that PAWS was able to save this one very lucky bear - as well as all of the animals in our care this summer - and return each to Washington’s gorgeous wilderness.

It's not too late to help us save animals year round, sign up for PAWSwalk today.

American Black Bear 2014-1317 was one of many species who get a second chance thanks to PAWS Donors. Click here and help us help animals.

PAWS Wildlife always needs dedicated volunteers – find out how you can help.

Follow our PAWS Wildlife blog.

By Amy Webster, Community Education Coordinator

Summer is a busy time for community outreach and education, not least because it's when we're out and about encouraging people to sign up for our annual PAWSwalk! Here's what we've been up to this month, and what you can look forward to in September.

Riley-montage

We’re all about PAWSwalk right now, and have enjoyed meeting supporters old and new at our Path To PAWSwalk events through August.

From fundraising at Chico's in Alderwood Mall to awareness raising at Whole Foods Market in Redmond and Bellevue, it's been a blast!

Riley the Raccoon also made his PAWSwalk appearance to help remind shoppers to sign up for our biggest community fundraiser of the year.

Don't worry, if you missed Riley on the road you can see him at PAWSwalk on September 6 at Marymoor Park!

In other event news, we welcomed new participants to our youth service learning workshops. Are you under 18 and looking to help out at PAWS? Sign up to receive updates on youth volunteer opportunities.

As the weather cools and school starts again, we have many exciting events coming up:

Saturday, September 6: Puget Sound Bird Fest in Edmonds 
Nature lovers and bird enthusiasts from all around the region come to celebrate the diverse variety of birds found in the Puget Sound area with guided nature walks, expert speakers, and exhibits. The event runs September 5-7, and PAWS will be there 10am to 5pm on Saturday the 6th so come see us!

Saturday, September 13, 2pm-3:30pm: Kids Helping Animals Workshop (8-13yrs) at PAWS
Come discover the many ways that kids can help animals. We will make toys for our shelter animals, practice how to help injured wildlife and make enrichment items for our recovering patients, learn the basics of fundraising, and play games illustrating how even simple choices can have big impacts. Parents and guardians are welcome to attend. RSVP here.

Saturday, September 13, 5pm to dusk: Monroe Swift Night Out
Come watch as thousands of Vaux’s Swifts return to the Wagner Center chimney as they migrate south for the winter. An amazing site—watch as one of the largest congregations of birds swoop into the chimney in just minutes! This family event will have vendors and activities for all so bring a lawn chair and enjoy one of nature’s greatest shows.

The Humane Education team will also begin delivering classroom programs throughout the community. Interested in having PAWS visit your child’s school? Here’s the complete list of presentations we offer.

Another packed month of opportunities to learn about wildlife, companion animals and the work we do here at PAWS! We look forward to seeing you out and about.

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.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

It’s baby squirrel season again at the Wildlife Center, and as things are winding down in the baby bird nursery they're picking up in the small mammal nursery.

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The center is packed full of baby Eastern Gray Squirrels, a few Douglas Squirrels, and the staff and volunteers who have become their surrogate parents.

This is the second round of baby squirrels this year; the first round was back in April. This is because Gray Squirrels breed twice a year if food availability is high.

Squirrels eat mushrooms, flowers, plant shoots and even caterpillars but their preferred food source is mast. Mast is nuts from forest trees such as oaks, beeches and hickories, that are high in fat calories. This is what you typically see a squirrel busily burying in the ground.

The reason squirrels bury their food is because they do not hibernate like other mammals. Instead, they leave food caches around that they will visit again during the winter months.

Now, you may be wondering, “How in the world do squirrels remember where they hide their food?”. Well, squirrels have a very accurate spatial memory and they use land markers and scent to help them find their buried caches. This also helps with seed dispersal and germination, since the caches the squirrels do not eat will start to grow into trees.

Squirrels try to be very secretive when burying their caches so other animals won’t dig them up. If a squirrel feels like it is being watched it will pretend to bury its food. The squirrel will go through the motions of digging a hole, placing the object, and burying it but instead it will actually hide the food in its mouth to save and bury somewhere else.

Squirrel nests are usually made of leaves and are high up in the trees. When baby squirrels are born their eyes are closed and they are hairless. They typically stay in the nest for six weeks but sometimes they fall or are pushed out; that is the main reason they're brought to us here at PAWS Wildlife Center.

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The squirrels we currently have are at different stages of development and require food at different increments of time throughout the day. Our staff and volunteers work diligently to help these babies grow into healthy adults so they can be released and become functioning members of their population once again.

Help us on the wildlife rehabilitation frontline. Become a volunteer.

Make a donation and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife.

Walk for the animals and help thousands of wild and companion animals receive the care they need at PAWS in the coming year. Sign up for PAWSwalk on September 6, 2014.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

Late summer is a bustling time of year for gulls in the Seattle area and here at PAWS. People are seeing them more readily now and finding injured birds as adult gulls are out gathering food for their hungry chicks.

Gulls are often referred to as seagulls lumping all of the species together. However, there are

actually 19 different species of gulls that live in North America, 14 of which spend part of the year in

Herring Gull sub-adult
Herring Gull - sub-adult

Washington. The term seagull is also very misleading as this suggests they only live near the ocean when in fact many species of gulls live, feed and nest inland. An example of this is the ring billed gull which is very common in eastern Washington.

 

Gulls nest in densely packed colonies and lay their eggs either directly on the ground or in a small nest bowl.The chick’s eyes are open and they are very mobile when they hatch; they are even capable of leaving the nest shortly after hatching. Gulls are very protective parents and will dive bomb potential predators to keep them away from their chicks. If you see healthy chicks that appear to be alone one of their parents is probably nearby watching and it is best to stay away.

Gulls are fantastic fliers and can actually float motionless in the air when looking for food. Gulls can eat just about anything including insects, small fish, other birds and small mammals. They also act as nature’s cleanup crew by scavenging on dead animals and other organic litter which can pose health threats to humans. Gulls are resourceful, smart, and very adaptable. Many species have learned to live and thrive in conjunction with humans, some species have been documented using objects as tools, they have a very complex method of communication and they have a highly developed social structure.

Glaucous Winged Gull chick
Glaucous Winged Gull chick

We have several gulls, from two different species, in our care at the PAWS. They are at different stages of development from very small chicks up to adults. This requires different levels of care from all of our staff and volunteers as they await their return to the wild.

 

Fun Fact: Most adult gulls have a red spot at the tip of their bill, newly hatched chicks use this spot as a target and will peck at it stimulating their parents to feed them.

Want to help care for wildlife at PAWS? Volunteer.

Help us to continue providing a safe haven for rehabilitating wildlife - make a donation.


By Kellie Benz, PAWS Staff

Sometimes, what we’re looking for is right in front of us. We’ve had a lot of visitors to PAWS lately, all walking through our Lynnwood and Cat City locations searching for their perfect companions. Many have left with their new best friend, and we’re always so proud to know we helped to build that family.

As always, our ‘Adorable Adoptables’ stories cover two companion animals who – despite all of their eager tail wagging or welcoming purrs – can’t seem to attract their perfect human. The volunteers who see them every day; those who walk them and brush them, those who cuddle them, who settle their nerves and soothe their yearning hearts, know how precious and loving these little beings are and they know how deserving they are of potential adopters’ attention.

So we hope our tales of their true personality, will encourage you to take a second look. Celeste3 - Aug 3 - 2014 - Kbenz

This week’s feline adorable adoptable is the always sophisticated miss Celeste. Regal and elegant, and mighty choosy of those worthy of her attention, lovely lady Celeste is a looker with a crooked ear. The ear, a tiny blemish on her otherwise model-perfect good looks, gives a hint to her life lived. A Siamese/mix of 10 years with a light brindle coat – and if you’re lucky enough to see them – sparkling sapphire blue eyes. We say lucky, because Celeste doesn’t let just anyone see the true glimmer of her dazzling personality.

Grumpy Cat might look the part, but Celeste is the real persnickety feline deal. Celeste doesn’t suffer fools gladly, so you may be able to attract her attention for a playful swat at one of her favorite toys, but you’ll have to win her heart if you want anything more. And she’s got oodles of affection waiting for you! Celeste isn’t interested in a fast pace, busy home. She’d like a quiet, adult only environment where she can thrive and feel like someone special’s one and only. Celeste's adoption fee is waived until September, so don’t put off meeting her at our downtown Seattle Cat City today!

Over in doggy world, at our Lynnwood Companion Animal location, Reba awaits her true forever home. Adopted once then left behind in a divorce dispute, Reba is pure love in a very compact body.

She’s been at PAWS longer than most and we don’t know why she keeps getting passed over. She’s friendly and welcoming to anyone who approaches her. She’s quick to break out her great big smile with every greeting and eager to show you her fluorescent orange ball, in the hopes that you’ll know how to play!

Reba Playing 20140807_085156_44th Ave W_resized

A mix of Australian Cattle Dog, Terrier and American Put Bull, this shorty-with-a-story deserves a second look. All of 9 years old, her affection is undeniable and all of the volunteers coo over her easy personality and well behaved walking etiquette. With eons of energy and an affinity for car rides, Reba is a co-pilot in waiting for the right active adventurer.

In her quietest moments, she’s a lapdog extraordinaire and knows exactly how to curl up for an afternoon nap. Reba respects her feline friends, but wouldn’t want to live with one. She’d rather be dashing off to a regular weekend road trip!

Are you the ideal human that Celeste or Reba are waiting for?

Is your future playmate patiently waiting at PAWS?

Volunteer and help find loving forever homes for animals in our care.

Help us continue to provide care for all our adorable adoptables.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

Leaving home can be scary and a hard thing to do for humans but imagine you are a four week old baby owl (owlets) leaving your nest cavity, high up in a tree, for the first time.

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Owl fledglings are not great fliers at first; for the first five or six weeks out of the nest they hop from branch to branch or take short flights following their parents. During this time owlets can fall to the ground where they stay under a close eye of their parents until they get off of the ground. Sometimes these falls result in an injury and the owlet may not be able to make it back to safety.

This is what happened to a Western Screech Owlet in Redmond. He was found in a driveway by the homeowners one June morning not moving or vocalizing. When he was still in the same spot later that evening they assumed something was wrong. They scooped him up and brought him to PAWS. In our Wildlife Center, he was unable to stand very well and was putting all of his weight on his left leg.

After examining his x-rays PAWS' veterinarian team determined he had a broken right leg. They promptly put a splint on it and placed him under observation to monitor him for any nerve damage in his right foot. After only a few days he was standing on both legs again and could partially flex his right toes. Within two weeks, of his arrival at PAWS, the splint was removed and he was placed in an outdoor enclosure where we continued to monitor his grasping ability.

After 24 more days of cage rest he was able to successfully fly and grasp his perches with both feet. On July 17, at sunset, he was released back to his forest in Redmond where he found safety amongst the trees.

Want to help care for wildlife at PAWS? Volunteer.

Help us to continue providing a safe haven for rehabilitating wildlife - make a donation.