93 posts categorized in "Volunteer"

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.


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?)


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.


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.


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:


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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:


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.