339 posts categorized in "Wildlife"


By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

The summer season is still in full swing, which makes for a bustling wildlife hospital; we're currently caring for more than 160 patients! This means some of our outdoor enclosures are pretty full, but none more so than our raptor mews.

Nestled among dense trees on our Lynnwood, Washington campus, our raptor mew complex consists of seven enclosures and is connected to an L-shaped flight pen.We are currently housing 18 patients; 17 in the mews and one in the flight pen. Among these patients we have quite the diversity of species.

There's a young Barred Owl who we raised from a small owlet and is waiting for his tail feathers to regrow. We're also caring for a Great Horned Owl who arrived with a severe head tilt and bruised eye lids.

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Above: Great Horned Owl (left), Osprey (center) and Red-tailed Hawk (right)

Other patients include an adult Bald Eagle whose primary feathers were completely tattered on his left wing and are re-growing; a young Bald Eagle who is learning to fly and gaining strength as she awaits release; two Ospreys, an adult who got tangled in fishing line after catching an already-caught fish and a juvenile found in someone’s driveway; and, a Red-tailed Hawk who was shot with a BB gun

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Above: Barred Owl (left), Glaucous-winged Gulls (center) and Barred Owl (right)

But that's not the end of our patient list. Occasionally, we house species other than raptors in our mews. Right now we have 11 Glaucous-winged Gull youngsters in two of the mews.

So, what does a mew consist of? Each of our mews are large to give our patients room to spread their wings and take short flights as they regain strength while in recovery. Some of our patients need more room than others and for them we can open windows between the mews and even between the mews and the flight pen.

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Above: Our raptor mew complex at PAWS

We add obstacles our patients must fly around to improve their agility, perches and boxes for our patients to rest on, enrichment to stimulate their senses, and pools for those species who need them.

Over the next few weeks these patients will be released, making room for the next round of patients in need of recovery time in the mews.

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 Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

We all know that lead is a danger to people. There are laws and regulations to keep it out of our paint, water and food. However did you know that lead can also be a danger to wildlife?

Wildlife can be exposed to lead that is left behind in the environment by people. Things like fishing tackle, bullets and shotgun pellets, paint chips, discarded batteries, pesticides, mining waste, leaded gasoline spills, old pennies or other lead materials that are not disposed of properly are very harmful to wildlife, particularly birds. Waterfowl, raptors, and game birds are the most susceptible species to lead poisoning.


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In 2010, this Bald Eagle with lead poisoning was treated at our wildlife hospital.

Lead poisoning is a chronic disease that causes weight loss and emaciation, weakness and lethargy, poor growth and development, blindness, seizures, fewer eggs laid, higher egg mortality, and even death.

On May 21, a Canada Goose found on the side of the road unable to fly was brought to PAWS Wildlife Center. It was determined that he had been shot in the right wing with an air rifle, resulting in a fracture. Radiographs also revealed that there was a lead pellet in his ventriculus (gizzard). Our veterinary team believe it is the same pellet that fractured his wing, and that he swallowed it while preening the pellet from his side.

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Our Canada Goose patient had lead poisoning.

After our veterinary team discovered the pellet in his ventriculus, they tested his blood lead level because although he was not showing typical symptoms of lead poisoning, he was not eating on his own. Sure enough, the results showed a lead level of more than 65 mcg/dL which is over six times the level considered safe for humans by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Our Canada Goose patient swims in his pool.

In order for the goose to recover from the lead poisoning, he needed to have the lead pellet removed from his ventriculus and to go through several rounds of chelation. Chelation is a technique used to remove heavy metals from the blood and involves injecting a chelating agent into the bloodstream a few times a day over several days. Our goose patient was injected with the chelating agent twice a day for 19 days. Thanks to Dr. Polly Peterson and her team at VCA Veterinary Specialty Center of Seattle, an endoscopy was performed on June 2 and the pellet was successfully removed.


Can't see the video? Watch it here.

Once the pellet was removed, the goose’s blood lead level started to go down and we knew the process was working despite the fact that it was very stressful on the goose. After 51 days in care, he was released back into the wild.


Can't see the video? Watch it here.

Although there is legislation in place to help prevent lead from being left behind in our environment, there are things everyone can do to further help our wild neighbors stay healthy and lead-free:

  • Avoid using lead-based fishing tackle or ammunition and encourage others to do the same.
  • Support laws to restrict the use of lead-based ammunition for all types of hunting; it is already banned in waterfowl hunting.
  • Be sure to discard lead-based paint properly, including older items that might contain lead-based paint.
  • Take precautions to avoid spilling leaded gasoline and dispose of unused fuel safely and responsibly.
  • Consider switching to rechargeable batteries and dispose of used batteries safely.

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 Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

We are currently treating more than 250 patients at PAWS Wildlife Center so, needless to say, our staff and volunteers are quite busy. Some of our patients like our Raccoon kits require more long-term care than others.

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We are currently caring for 41 young Raccoons. Our first orphan arrived on May 13 and our last on June 26. These youngsters will be in our care until their release this fall. The majority of them are not related and came from different areas in western Washington.

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When many of the Raccoon kits arrive, they weigh just over a pound and their eyes are still closed. This is the most vulnerable stage of their lives, and they are kept in an incubator for warmth as they cannot properly regulate their own body temperature. Staff, interns and advanced volunteers spend hours each day tube feeding them and cleaning our two Raccoon nurseries.

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After several weeks of care in the nurseries, the kits are weaned and big enough to graduate to an outside enclosure, the Raccoon silos, where they remain until the fall.

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In the silos, which are secluded from other patients and from us, they learn to climb and search for food. As you can imagine, Raccoons can make quite a mess, so our interns and volunteers are kept very busy with cleaning all four silos daily. This can take hours because not only does everything have to be cleaned, it must also be disinfected to keep our little patients healthy.

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Enrichment is one of the most important things for Raccoons. They are very intelligent and have very sensitive hands. We introduce them to a variety of materials in their enclosures, which keeps them curious and busy and stimulates their senses. They also have pools to play in to beat the heat and natural items such as logs and branches to climb on and search for food. However, the majority of the day is spent sleeping on a specially made platforms above the ground in a pile.

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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 Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

We are currently caring for more than 100 young birds at PAWS Wildlife Center, many of which start out in our Baby Bird Nursery. However, there are some birds who never stretch their wings in the nursery.

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Baby Barn Owls


Baby raptors who come to PAWS for care are treated differently from songbirds and other species. Because raptors are with their parents for a lot longer than songbirds and can be easily habituated to people when they are young, we try to reunite them with their parents when we can. Unfortunately, that is not always possible and in these cases they are raised at PAWS.

Like other wildlife we treat, we receive raptors at different stages of development. Some are hatchlings that are just a day or two old, while others are fledglings who left their nest too early and find themselves in harm’s way. Some youngsters get knocked out of their nest by their siblings or a predator, resulting in an injury.

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Baby Barred Owl


Currently we are caring for eight young raptors—four Barn Owls, three Barred Owls and a Peregrine Falcon. The youngsters are housed with others of their species if we have more than one. This is very important for their development, as they learn valuable behavioral and social skills from each other which helps them survive in the wild.

Our Peregrine Falcon patient is only scheduled for a short stay with us. He fledged a little too early and is not able to fly just yet. Once his primary feathers are long enough, he will be returned to his nest site to be reunited with his family with the help of the Falcon Research Group. He will then start learning to hunt with his siblings as his parents stay nearby providing food from time to time.

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Baby Peregrine Falcon


Our owl patients, however, will stay in our care until they are old enough to return to the wild. Until that time, they will spend their days taking short flights in their enclosures slowly learning to fly. Before they are deemed ready for release, we will ensure that they can catch live prey, which is the most important skill they need to survive on their own.

Once they are ready, they will be taken to a suitable habitat near where they were originally found because it will fulfill all of the requirements that will allow them to be successful in the wild.

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Barn Owl


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 Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

As spring turns into summer, things are really picking up at PAWS Wildlife Center. With over 200 patients currently being treated and over 140 released in May, our staff and volunteers are extremely busy preparing diets, cleaning and treating patients. This is the time of year when we start to get in more baby birds, specifically corvids; we currently have 10 youngsters.

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Corvidae is a family of larger passerines (songbirds) that includes crows, ravens, jays, nutcrackers, and magpies. The most common species in this family in the Seattle area are American Crows and Steller’s Jays.

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Corvids may seem like run-of-the-mill birds, but when it comes to intelligence they are at the top of their class. Corvids are considered to not only be the most intelligent birds but also some of the most intelligent animals in the world. They demonstrate self-awareness and tool making abilities, and crows can even recognize individual human faces. They have the ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances, which has allowed them to successfully live among humans in more urban settings.

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A corvid species that we frequently receive at PAWS is the Steller’s Jay. Each year we care for a mix of adults and babies, and already this year we have received over 20.

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Named after naturalist Georg Steller, they are sometimes called Blue Jays, although they are quite different from their eastern cousins. They do indeed have a blue body, but their head is black with a triangular crest. They also do not have white markings on their wings and tail like Blue Jays have.

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Here is some more information about this common Western Washington corvid.

Species Info:

  • Wingspan is 17.3 inches and weight ranges from 3.5 to 4.9 ounces.
  • Nest in conifer trees.
  • Clutch size is two to six eggs.
  • Generalist foragers, eating insects, nuts, berries, eggs, small animals and nestlings.
  • Very social and vocal.
  • Frequently can be seen hopping around.

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Cool Facts:

  • Steller’s Jays use mud to build their nests.
  • They will rob other birds’ nests.
  • They are an excellent mimics; they can imitate the sounds of other birds, squirrels, cats, dogs, chickens and some mechanical objects.
  • The oldest recorded Steller’s Jay on record was at least 16 years old.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

During the first week of May, with the help of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) Karelian bear dog team and black bear biologists, we said goodbye to our nine American Black Bears who wintered over at PAWS Wildlife Center.

You may remember that we received nine bear cubs between August and January. All were from different areas in Washington but all were in the same predicament—orphaned and too young to survive on their own.

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It has been several years since we have had this many black bear cubs at one time at PAWS, and our rehabilitation staff worked hard all winter long, spending hours each day cleaning, feeding and preparing enrichment items for them.

As for the bears, they spent a lot of their winter sleeping together in a big black tub, play fighting, searching their enclosures for food and lounging on hammocks specially made by the Boy Scouts.

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On the morning of May 2, WDFW bear biologists and several of the Karelian Bear Dog officers arrived at PAWS to help us anesthetize the first group of bears for their pre-release exams, to take measurements, and to place them in the culvert traps they would be released from high up in the Cascades. Five bears were to be released on May 3 and the remaining four on May 4.

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On the morning of May 3, PAWS joined a caravan of four WDFW trucks to take the first five bears to their release site. We were also joined by three additional officers and their Karelian bear dogs.

In Washington, black bear releases are conducted using Karelian Bear Dogs who are specially trained to work with bears. They scare and chase the bears as they leave the trap. This is one more reminder that humans are bad and that they should stay away.

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These releases are also a useful training tool for newcomers to the Karelian bear dog team like Jax, who is just over a year old. Jax is normally stationed near Spokane but made the trip to western Washington with his officer to not only watch the adult dogs work but to join them. The May 4 release was the first release during which Jax was let off of his leash and able to run with the seasoned bear dogs. It was a special day for Officer Keith Kirsch, who has had Jax and has been training him since he was only a few months old.

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The bears were released one culvert trap at a time, and within 10 minutes they had all disappeared into the wilderness. Our job for the day, however, was not quite complete. We returned to PAWS to conduct pre-release exams on the remaining four bears and get them settled into culvert traps for their release the following morning.

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By 11 a.m. on May 4, all nine bears were back in the wild to once again be functioning members of the Washington black bear population.

This video was taken during the bear release. In it, you can hear the Karelian Bear Dogs in the background. If you can't see it here, you can watch it on YouTube.

 

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 Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

The baby season has officially started at PAWS Wildlife Center. We have already received and released two Anna’s Hummingbird fledglings and we are currently caring for 40 Mallard ducklings, three raccoon kits, a killdeer chick and four hatchling Dark-eyed Juncos, just to name a few.

Killdeer chick
Killdeer chick


Baby season, which typically lasts from March through August, is the busiest time at PAWS. During this time we care for over 3,000 orphaned and injured wild animals, 2,000 of which are babies; our rehabilitator staff doubles, with seasonal rehabbers joining the team; the number of volunteers doubles; we have visiting veterinarian students; and our 12 or so interns will be starting soon.

Baby season kicked off this year on March 16 with the arrival of a five-pound baby black bear. She was kidnapped from her den and although state wildlife officers attempted to reunite her with her mother it was too late; the mother had moved on after being disturbed at her den site.

Baby Anna's Hummingbirds being fed
Two baby Anna's Hummingbirds being fed at PAWS Wildlife Center


This is the tenth bear in our care and she is secluded from the other nine who are roughly 10 times her size. Currently she is about the size of a toddler, has brown fur and a prominent white blaze on her chest that looks something like a bib.

Despite being on her own, she keeps herself quite busy exploring her enclosure to find treasures the rehabilitation team has hidden for her. These can be anything from stuffed toys hiding in a pine tree to a bowling ball in her “dogloo.” Recently she even had a hula hoop hanging from the ceiling, which she spent time twirling around with her feet and biting. All of these items serve as enrichment to keep her mind stimulated, and even though she doesn’t know it, they also call upon her natural instincts to act like a bear.

American Black Bear playing with enrichment items at PAWS Wildlife Center
A baby American Black Bear plays with enrichment items in her enclosure at PAWS Wildlife Center.


This little bear will be spending more than a year with us. Hopefully she will soon have a companion that is closer in size, but until then the stuffed toys are a good substitute.

 

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 Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

Spring is breeding season for most wildlife species that live in Washington, and this is not lost on Bald Eagles. The beginning of April is when the first eaglets hatch in Western Washington.

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Adults start competing for territory and building nests during the winter. This is a crucial time for individuals, as they need to be healthy and strong to defend their territory against other eagles. Unfortunately for some, these territory disputes don’t end happily.

Currently we are treating an adult male Bald Eagle at PAWS Wildlife Center who was brought to us in early March. He is suffering from a large soft tissue wound just above his bill that is very deep and thought to have been the result of a territorial dispute he did not win. For several days he was seen on a beach unable to fly very well before being caught and brought to PAWS for medical treatment. He is currently being housed in our large flight pen to build his wing strength back up, undergoing rounds of weekly wound management, and is on antibiotics to ward off infection.

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We are also currently treating a second Bald Eagle who may have been hit by a vehicle, resulting in a broken right wing. He too is going through weekly rounds of wound management and on antibiotics.

As our two eagle patients regain their strength and continue to heal let me introduce you to the Bald Eagle.

Species Info:

  • Large raptor with a heavy body, large head and long hooked bill.
  • Immature Bald Eagles are all brown and their heads and tails are not completely white until they are 4 to 6 years old.

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  • Wingspan is 6.6 feet and weighs 6.5 to 13 pounds.
  • Nests in trees and on cliff sides.
  • Clutch size is one to three eggs.
  • Carnivorous bird eating fish, birds, reptiles, invertebrates and carrion.
  • Powerful flier, soaring, gliding, and flapping over long distances.
  • Typically solitary but will congregate by the hundreds at communal roosts and feeding sites.

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Cool Facts:

  • Rather than hunting their own fish, Bald Eagles will often harass ospreys until they drop their prey.
  • The largest Bald Eagle nest was almost 9 feet in diameter and 18 feet tall.
  • Immature Bald Eagles spend their first four years exploring vast territories and can fly hundreds of miles per day.
  • Bald Eagles are known to play with inanimate objects such as plastic bottles and sticks. One observer watched as six Bald Eagles passed sticks to each other in midair.
  • The oldest recorded Bald Eagle on record was at least 38 years old.

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By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

Spring is in the air, and you know what that means: Birds are passing through the Seattle area or coming back to their summer breeding grounds here. You may have noticed a lot more singing during the wee hours of the morning.

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Black-headed Grosbeak

 
Some spring migrants have already arrived and are establishing territories and building nests, while others are still on their way. Of the 160 or so breeding birds in the Seattle area, about 50 of those are only here during the spring and summer. Some of the songbird species include the Wilson’s Warbler, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lincoln’s Sparrow and Yellow-rumped Warbler, just to name a few. However, there are also migratory shorebirds, waterfowl and raptors in our area as well.

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An Osprey being released after rehabilitation at PAWS Wildlife Center.

 
Migratory species are built to be long-distance fliers, with longer wings and bigger breast muscles than their non-migratory kin. They have a very complex and efficient respiratory system that allows them to fly at high altitudes and for long distances.

Bird species use a combination of navigational skills to move from their wintering grounds to their summer grounds. Although it is still somewhat of a mystery how exactly they do it, we do know that migratory birds use many different senses when they migrate. They use the sun, stars, the Earth’s magnetic field, and landmarks seen during the day to maneuver their way over distances that could be thousands of miles.

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Western Tanager

 
You may be among the lucky ones to see some of these spectacular migrants in your backyard habitat or in nearby parks. If not, there are ways to naturally attract birds and other wildlife so you can enjoy them throughout the spring and summer. You could even go as far as taking steps towards having your backyard certified as a wildlife sanctuary.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler

 
We have only received a few spring migrants so far this spring season at PAWS Wildlife Center. Currently we are treating a baby Band-tailed Pigeon. Although you may occasionally see a few Band-tailed Pigeons in our area in the winter, they are still considered spring migrants. They typically start leaving their summer breeding grounds in late August and return as early as the end of February. This is, of course, dependent on weather and food availability.

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This baby Band-tailed Pigeon is one of our first migratory bird patients of the year.

 
We expect to receive more migrant birds and other wildlife patients as baby season and spring start to pick up. If you find a baby bird or baby mammal that appears to be injured or orphaned, follow our simple guides linked above to learn what to do. If in doubt, call the PAWS Wildlife Center at (425) 412-4040 and one of our experts can assist you.

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.

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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.