By Julia Smiljanic, PAWS Marketing & Communications Intern

Life is full of endless cuddles at my furever home. What more could a pup ask for? But things weren’t always so great for me. I was born at a large-scale illegal puppy mill in Eastern Washington. Growing up this way, I thought I would always be alone and living my life in a cage.

Samson-flowersSpring is one of my favorite times of year.  Mom doesn't love it when I mess with her flowers but what's a pup to do?


I was three years old when suddenly one day things changed. There was a huge raid on the puppy mill and I was taken away to Pasado’s Safe Haven with all the other dogs and puppies - 255 of us in total. From there we were distributed to the many local shelters who stepped up to help out.

I came to PAWS along with 21 other dogs. While I was scared to be away from the only place I knew, the people at PAWS were so paw-some and gentle - tenderly scooping me up, showing me love, and helping me with my medical needs. Because my teeth were in bad shape, I had dental surgery to repair and remove damage.

My new PAWS fur-iends told me they would find me a loving home, and soon they did! My family and I fell in love with each other fast, and if you ask me we're a perfect match. Since we came into each other's lives they have helped me to learn how to be a dog and enjoy life. Some of my favorite things are snuggles in my humans' arms and lounging out on the back deck. Though I can't much be enticed by treats, my favorite food is chicken, which my mom cooks and dices up for me. I've learned how to bark, but I seldom do as I don't see the point. I'm still learning what all the fuss is about this "socializing" thing. 

How I became famous

Mom was reading through her phone one day, when suddenly she got really excited. “Samson, do you want to be famous?” she asked. I perked my ears up but was still a bit skeptical. I needed to know the details first because I wasn’t about to do anything embarrassing. I have a reputation to maintain after all.  That's when she told me that PAWS was looking for their next PAWSwalk Spokespup. I knew this contest was for me.


The competition was fierce; lots of former PAWS dogs like me wanted this awesome gig. Mom told me my story would inspire people. She also reassured me that she loved me whether I won or not. With excitement and anticipation, we entered the race for fame.

PAWS narrowed the contestants down to three worthy dogs: Itsy Bitsy (a 3.5 pound Chihuahua), Jemma (a larger pup), and little ol' me. When the final day of voting came, I could barely contain my nerves.

Luckily, the phone rang not long after. I was just settling down for my long afternoon nap when a ruckus broke out. Squealing with excitement, Mom picked me up and twirled around until my big ears turned inside out. "We won!" she sang out. "Samson, you're the new PAWSwalk Spokespup!"

Recently, I attended my first official PAWSwalk Spokespup event at Redhook Brewery on Capital Hill. I was happy but also nervous. After all, I didn't want to disappoint the nice people who had voted for me. The event was pup-tacular! I got to bask in the sun as my many fans showered me with attention. And the best part? The event was a fundraiser to help more dogs in need just like I used to be. 

I’m still overwhelmed but slowly getting used to my new found fame. I mean how many pups are lucky enough to have the chance to inspire animal lovers to raise funds to help dogs, cats and wild animals at PAWS?  It sure is a good thing that mom’s last foster dog taught me how to bark. Why you ask? So I can bark it out loud that PAWSwalk is coming and make sure everyone registers right away to begin fundraising for our annual 5k on September 7. 

Register for PAWSwalk today and start fundraising at

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to companion animals and wild animals in need.

By Kate Campbell, PAWS Educator

Brielle is a 12-year-old Leader of the Pack.

As a student at Pine Lake Middle School, Brielle needed to complete a fundraising project. She could support any organization in her community, and Brielle chose PAWS!


Brielle's organic cookies that she baked, marketed, sold and delivered to raise money for her PAWS fundraising project.

We're so impressed with Brielle's work. Not only did Brielle bake organic dog cookies, but she marketed, sold, and delivered them too! We especially like the packaging that Brielle designed and created. Who knew you could tag @paws_wa on paper?

Brielle's fundraiser brought in $100 for PAWS. That money bought 7 fillable toys and a great big jar of peanut butter. After all, the dogs staying at PAWS need treats too!

The customer feedback is in, and all the dogs loved their treats. Thank you, Brielle!

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to companion animals and wild animals in need.

By Sam Doherty, PAWS Volunteer

Catios (or cat patios) are no doubt a fun and quirky trend to come out of the Pacific Northwest in recent years, but in light of our upcoming Catio Tour Seattle (speaking of, have you registered yet? Details below!), we want you to know that they are also so much more than that.

Catios are a Win for Cats, a Win for Wildlife


So what is a catio exactly? Catios are creative outdoor enclosures for cats that they can play in, lounge in, and safely experience the outdoors in. Catios keep cats safe from predators (such as coyotes, raccoons, and opossums), and give them the freedom to play outdoors without risk. Oh, and did we mention they look pretty cool too? (Seriously, come check out these amazing feline palaces at our Catio Tour on July 13!)

Catio-based cats also live on average longer lives than their outdoor companions, and still experience a stimulating, active living environment.


But wait, that’s not all: while cats lounge in luxury in their catios, scores of wildlife (especially our avian friends) are being protected from cat attacks. Let’s look at the facts.

PAWS received 503 animals caught by cats in 2018

Many wildlife patients that arrive at PAWS each year come as a result of a cat attack. Free-roaming domestic cats kill a vast number of birds each year, in addition to other mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

Many PAWS patients so far in 2019 include a range of species that were victim to cat attacks:


Meet this Brown Creeper, who was attacked by a domestic outdoor cat and came to PAWS with multiple skin wounds and body feathers missing. PAWS was able to treat the wounds and release her eight days later.

This Eastern Cottontail’s nest was destroyed by a cat, but was able to be rehabbed and released by PAWS 16 days later.

These Dark-eyed Junco babies were treated by PAWS for soft tissue wounds after being attacked by a cat. Within 29 days, PAWS was able to release them back into the wild.

We are so thankful that these patients were able to recover and be released, but these are just a few of the many wildlife creatures that fall victim to cat attacks each year. This is why we are spreading the word about catios – while they are a fun trend that is great for cats, they are also a valuable contribution to the protection of our native wildlife.

Want More Information on Catios? Attend the Catio Tour Seattle!

To discover more about catios and find out whether one could be right for your cat companions, register for the Catio Tour Seattle at Registered participants will receive a tour map with addresses and valuable information to enrich the lives of your feline friends.

Your $10 registration fee supports PAWS’ life-saving work and helps us rehabilitate injured and orphaned wildlife, find cats and dogs their forever homes, and educate people about compassion for animals. The event is hosted by PAWS in partnership with Catio Spaces, the Humane Society of the United States, and Seattle Audubon.

Can’t make it to Catio Tour Seattle? You can still make a difference in the lives of local cats and wildlife! The first 14 people who donate $100 or more to the Safe Cats, Healthy Habitats campaign through will be offered a free Kitty Cot to bring home the ultimate comfort to their feline friend.

By Jocelyn Jensen, PAWS Marketing & Communications Coordinator

PAWS partners monthly with Mission: Miracle K9 Rescue, Inc., a canine rescue and transport organization out of Bandera, Texas. The organization’s main focus is to bring shelter dogs to safety; the dogs are pulled from over-crowded shelters where many are slated for euthanasia - and are then transported all over the country. These transports give the dogs a second-chance at life and an opportunity to find their loving family.


Matt Montes is the founder of Miracle K9 Rescue. Matt estimates he has transported 2,500 dogs on their freedom rides. In 2018 alone, he has delivered 250 of these dogs to PAWS. Matt drives for two-and-a-half days straight when traveling to Washington, stopping only to sleep and care for the dogs in his trailer. He arrives at PAWS in the middle of the night and sleeps in the parking lot awaiting staff and volunteers’ arrival in the morning. Matt has been doing this run to PAWS for over two years.


On #GivingTuesday (a global day of giving on November 27), PAWS and Matt partnered on a special transport we called #RescueTuesday to showcase the work we do together to save lives. On this trip, Matt cut his Thanksgiving weekend short and transported 26 dogs to PAWS by himself.


PAWS had a #GivingTuesday fundraising goal of $50,000 to care for 130 companion animals and get them home for the holidays. Our generous supporters eagerly joined the online campaign and at the end of the day they had given more than $76,000 – enough to provide care for 200 animals! Miracle K9 Rescue also exceeded its #GivingTuesday fundraising goal.

Matt and Miracle K9 Rescue use the tagline, Until All the Cages are Empty, and PAWS will continue to partner with Matt, Miracle K9 Rescue and our other transfer partners across the country to make this a reality.

By AJ Chlebnik, PAWS Education Programs Manager

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Anyone who has ever worked with teenagers knows that they are often a challenging audience to reach. But anyone who has worked with teens also knows that they are an unstoppable force when engaged in something they are passionate about. And, passion is what drove a local teen filmmaker to create one of PAWS’ newest features – the PAWSCast.


PAWSCast 1: Livvy – Livvy has two dogs and two cats. What does she think is the most important issue facing animals today? Watch to find out!

Sophia Banel is a teen filmmaker from Seattle and has always been an animal lover. Last year, her love for animals led her to work with PAWS to create a video series by teens, for teens. PAWSCast features local youth and their favorite animal companions. Sophia believes that animals can change lives and shows just how important they are to us through a series of short videos. The videos feature a variety of dogs and cats and the humans who love them. The videos also give teens a chance to learn what animal issues are most important to their peers. From animal testing to animal abuse to animal adoption, young people are passionate about making the world a better place for animals. Want to learn more and see how you can help? Check out the first episode of PAWSCast and go to the PAWSCast webpage for more episodes!


PAWSCast 2: Gabriella – Gabriella loves her dog Ernie. Find out why dogs are so important to Gabriella and how you can help!

Two of the programs at PAWS that help young people take action for animals in a very real way are our Teen and Preteen Programs, held 4 times a year at PAWS Companion Animal Shelter in Lynnwood, WA. During the Teen Program (for 13-17 year-olds) and the Preteen Program (for 9-12 year-olds), young people can sign up to spend a part of their day doing service projects and learning about how we care for animals at PAWS. Past activities have included building baby bird nests and bear climbing gyms for our Wildlife Hospital, decorating cardboard cat carriers for future adopters, and learning how we evaluate dog behavior and make the perfect match for pets and families. Want to sign up? Click here for a calendar of upcoming events.


PAWSCast 3: Hannah – Hannah’s dog Bailey needed a forever home. Listen to Hannah tell the story of how Bailey found his family.

Have your own idea for helping animals and want us to support you? Contact us at for ideas and suggestions or visit our webpage here. Make a short film or send pictures of your project and we may even feature you on our website. What are you waiting for?! Take action for animals in your community today.


PAWSCast 4: Sam – What is Sam’s favorite thing about his pets? Find out!

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.

By Katie Amrhein, PAWS Education Coordinator

The birds are out, the sun is out, and the cats are out (in their catios), which means it’s almost time for PAWS to host the fourth annual Catio Tour Seattle on Saturday, July 28th from noon to 4pm. For one day only, attendees will have VIP access to some of the most creative, luxurious, and posh feline pads on this self-guided tour that runs from West Seattle to NW Seattle.

Catios are enclosed cat patios that allow cats to enjoy the sunshine, watch birds, and feel the breeze. Catios also keep cats safe from the many dangers of the outdoors, including cars, people, dangerous chemicals or poison, and diseases.

Piku and Rivi's Windowside Wilderness

Catios can range from simple to sophisticated, whether built by a catio construction company, such as Catio Spaces, or done as a DIY project. On this year’s Catio Tour, Instagram star @Piku_the_siberian will be generously showing off her catio in Queen Anne. Her catio, named Piku and Rivi’s Windowside Wilderness (above), sets the mood for all seasons with party lights wrapped around the interior and removable weatherproof vinyl sheathing.

Chateau Gato_Thor cat

Visitors will also have the chance to visit Thor, a charismatic cat whose throne includes a Magnolia tree enclosed in a striking octagon catio called Chateau Gato in West Seattle (above). A tunnel connecting the catio to the house is held up in the middle by a Madrona tree trunk salvaged from a neighbor’s yard.

General Catio Tour photo

A peppy senior on PAWS’ Fourth Annual Catio Tour Seattle-18-year-old Smidgen- serves as a testament to the health benefits of a catio. Cats with catios are much less likely to get lost and they live longer than outdoor cats. The multitude of dangers faced by an outdoor cat can significantly shorten their lifespan, while an indoor cat or a cat with access to a catio could easily live to be 10 or 15. Free-roaming domestic cats also kill large numbers of birds in the United States every year and take heavy tolls on native reptile, amphibian, and mammal populations.

General Catio Tour photo2

For more information or to register for Catio Tour Seattle, visit A $10 registration fee supports PAWS’ life-saving work to rehabilitate injured and orphaned wildlife, find cats and dogs their forever homes, and educate people about compassion for animals.

Registered participants will receive a Catio Tour Guide Book with addresses, information about each catio, and access to valuable resources for enriching the lives of cat companions. The event is hosted by PAWS and sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States, Catio Spaces, and Seattle Audubon.

Unable to attend this year’s Catio Tour Seattle? We are holding a friendly competition to name the catio displayed on the PAWS campus and the ceramic kitties residing inside. If your names are selected by PAW staff, you'll receive a cat goodie basket. Please answer some survey questions and submit your name suggestions here!

By Rebecca Oertel, PAWS Cat City Manager

At PAWS Cat City, we welcome everyone to our location with our name—“Hello, and welcome to Cat City”!


Above: Available cats and kittens get a window view of potential entering adopters.

Our unique store front creates a dynamic adoption experience for our adopters and allows us to cater to the individual needs of each cat. The foundation of our adoption process is listening to our adopters. Everyone has a story and we work hard to understand theirs. Some visitors need additional education, some need a shoulder to cry on after losing their beloved pet, some need to show you photos of their other cats while you’re getting to know them. It all contributes to our knowledge of an adopter and improves our ability to recommend specific cats. This approach helped the Cat City team to place over 1,300 cats into new homes last year.


Retail cat 1

Above: The colony environment allows each cat to show their personality to potential adopters.

That kind of adoption success is one reason why PAWS was selected in the spring of 2018 to participate in the Cat Pawsitive Pro Initiative, created by Jackson Galaxy, cat behaviorist, and host of Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell”.  This ingenious program uses clicker training with positive reinforcement to address common challenges that cats have in shelters. Shelters can be an overwhelming place for cats, full of unusual smells, sounds, and sights that often make it challenging for them to put their best paws forward when meeting adopters. While staff and volunteers in the shelter get to see the potential in every cat, it is often difficult for an adopter to take that leap of faith when they don’t get to see it for themselves. The really beautiful thing is the Cat Pawsitive Program enables each cat to show their potential.

Retail 1

Above: Example starter kit being offered during our "Whole Kitten Caboodle" June campaign.

To celebrate Cat Adoption Month, PAWS wants everyone to know that we can be your “Whole Kitten Caboodle”. We have created a variety of starter kits for adopters who are taking home a new feline friend and need all the basic supplies, while our retail space offers a wide range of toys and supplies for all cat lovers.  Whether you are looking to adopt, want to spoil your kitties at home or get gifts for your friends, you can support PAWS by shopping at our locations in Lynnwood or Seattle. 

Read more about Adopt-A-Cat Month and view our "Whole Kitten Caboodle" Starter Kits.

Looking for a furry friend? Take a look at our available animals

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

Become a foster parent for puppies and kittens in need.

By Jeff Brown, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist

It's winter here at the PAWS Wildlife Center and the halls are much quieter this time of year.  
The four yearling Black Bear patients are hibernating so they aren’t making a sound.  Bear1

Staff and volunteers also must work quietly as to not disturb them. The bears are housed in enclosures that are kept dark to help mimic their natural dens. The main difference for these patients is that they aren’t denned up with their mom. Care in this state is quite simple as bears do not urinate or defecate while in their dens. This adaptation keeps bears safe from wild predators and allows them to recycle nutrients and conserve water.

Hibernating bears sign
Above: One of the signs reminding staff and volunteers to be mindful of the sleeping bears.

The term hibernation for bears has often been debated because their “sleep mode” state differs from other true hibernating species. A bear’s body temperature doesn’t decrease to the ambient temperature like a ground squirrel or a bat, and is only about 10 to 12 degrees lower than their normal body temperature. This means that they can arouse from this state relatively quickly. However, bears do reduce their metabolic rate so their breathing and heart rate are much slower. The debate regarding the proper term may continue but bears’ adaptations to winter are no less amazing. Check out this NPR story to learn more about their body’s response to prolonged rest.


Above: The cubs at PAWS before they went into hibernation.

Our patients are not the only bears hibernating of course. Bears all over the Pacific Northwest are denned up right now. For all of us that live in the wildland-urban interface (areas near or surrounded by unoccupied land), we must not relax our bear safety precautions. Bears, especially in the lowlands of western Washington, can come out of hibernation during warm spells in winter. In fact, bears won’t hibernate at all in some areas along the coast. It all depends on food availability.  If bears do emerge from hibernation, they might be looking for quick calories in your garbage. Wildlife managers recommend that we maintain bear-safe garbage cans, clean barbeques, and continue other bear safe practices all year round.

Bear safe garbage can

Above: An example of a bear-safe garbage can.

The bears at PAWS will likely come out of hibernation earlier than most bears in the wild. They will start to stir in the next two months and we will return to normal bear care routines. Wild bears usually emerge in April but that can depend on elevation, snowmelt, and many other factors. As we look forward to spring, it’s important to start planning now to prevent conflict with bears. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website has great info about living with bears including this video, Western Wildlife Outreach provides services to King County and has a great cheat sheet for reducing bear conflict.

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

By Jeff Brown, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist

A few week's back we admitted into our care a Northern Flying Squirrel that was attacked by a cat and carried into a house. We rarely see these little, wild neighbors as they are nocturnal. They don’t hibernate in the winter but they may group up in tree cavity nests to stay warm. A good way to support cavity-nesting animals like these squirrels is to promote and maintain snags. If you have a hazardous tree on your property, for instance, think about hiring an arborist to transform it into habitat rather than removing it.


By Anya Pamplona, Animal Services Manager 

Every October for National Adopt-a-Dog Month, the shelter staff at PAWS puts special emphasis on hidden gems, - those dogs who need some extra help getting noticed. Maybe they’re shy. Maybe they’re a senior. Maybe they need a more experienced adopter. October is their month to shine with reduced adoption fees, profiles on the website, and the subject of twice-weekly social media posts. Four hidden gems were discovered and adopted at PAWS during National Adopt-a-Dog Month. They are all shining strong in their loving new homes. 

Funny thing is these hidden gems also happen to be staff favorites. Why? Well because they are hidden gems, they often don't get noticed and adopted right away so we get to know them better. And because we're animal experts, we can see the awesomeness underneath the exterior of a scared dog. Or the wise beauty of a gray-muzzled senior. We take them under our wing and keep them safe and feeling loved at PAWS. 

Sweet and slight 10-year-old Ralphy was just what his new mom was looking for – "I'm a senior with a bad shoulder so I wanted a small senior dog that I could walk and bathe."


Cocoa Puff
Ten-year-old Cocoa Puff, renamed Macy, "just needed a lot of love" said her new mom. 

No matter what, PAWS is committed to finding our hidden gems loving homes all year 'round. Here are the top four reasons to adopt a hidden gem:  

  • Senior dogs provide companionship without the hassle of crazy puppy or teenage antics. Housebreaking? Mastered. Chewing your favorite shoes? Never! Couch potato Sunday rooting the Seahawks to another win? Sounds perfect to them.
  • Have you ever been misunderstood? Probably. And some of the dogs who need an experienced adopter are misunderstood too. Which is why they are searching for someone who “speaks dog” and will understand what they need. By putting your knowledge and experience to good use, you’re helping show them that people will listen to them and provide them with what they need. And who doesn’t love that? 
  • There is no better feeling than watching your shy, reserved dog slowly start to trust and build their confidence.And knowing that you are the reason they are making progress, makes every pet parent's heart burst with pride. These dogs just need love, patience and a person who believes in them.
  • Unconditional love. All adopted dogs, hidden gems or not, know that you’ve given them a second chance. And they seem to love you all the more for giving them home they deserve.


Donut on her way home with a family who recognized her special qualities.  







By Jen Mannas, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist

On July 28th a Great Blue Heron was rescued after spending several days stranded in a backyard. The homeowners suspected something was wrong but did not have the means to catch the bird on their own.


Luckily two PAWS staff members were in a park nearby releasing some swallows. PAWS does not typically conduct wildlife rescues because we simply do not have the man power, but every once in a while we make an exception if we are in the area.

Upon our arrival, the heron was standing on one leg on top of an old tree stump. It was apparent that his other leg was broken but the extent of the break was not obvious. We only had one chance to catch him; if we miss and he takes flight he would most certainly get away and we would have no way of finding him again.


With a little luck and some skill we were able to net the bird in one try.  Once in hand we could see the extent of his injury.  It was an open fracture in his right tibiotarsus. Humans don't have a tibiotarsus, in fact bird legs and feet are very different from ours. We have a few of the same bones but bird bones are fused differently and are more elongated. The tibiotarus is found below the femur and consists of the tibia fused with the upper bones of the foot. 


The tibiotarsus fracture seemed so bad at first glance that we thought it would not be treatable and the heron would never regain use of that leg.  Herons, of course, need full function of both of their legs to survive in the wild since they spend so much time standing in water stalking their prey.  If regaining full function was not possible this bird would have to be humanely euthanized.

Back at PAWS the heron was examined right away by a rehabilitator. Luckily the tissue and most of the bone at the fracture site was still healthy; he was given pain medication and scheduled to see the veterinarians the next day. 


After an exam, radiographs and some discussion amongst our vet team they decided to go ahead and try to surgically mend the fracture. This would involve a long, sterile surgery. 


During round one of surgery a section of necrotic bone was removed from the leg to promote healing and the fracture site was sutured closed to protect the healthy bone and tissue. This round of surgery had to be aborted early due to the patient not responding well to anesthesia. The heron was put on antibiotics and his fractured leg was secured with a splint.

The second round of surgery was attempted two days later and after an hour it was a success. An external skeletal fixator, with five pins, was placed in the leg at the fracture site to hold the bone in place while it healed. 


The heron was housed in our hospital ward for four days post-surgery to limit his movement, allow the fracture site to stabilize, and so we could keep a close eye on him. 


Post surgery he was very weak and stopped eating.  Our rehabilitation staff had to work very hard to help him regain his strength.  He was given fluids, medication and tube fed several times a day.  He started knuckling his right foot when he stood and a specialized shoe was made to help with foot placement. Miraculously 10 days after surgery he started eating on his own again and regaining strength.       

He wore the fixator for a total of 19 days and as he healed he was gradually given more space.  


Once the fixator was removed he needed a little more time to regain strength and be monitored.  We needed to assess his ability to stand, perch and land after a flight.

Thanks to all the efforts of our veterinarians, rehab team and volunteers he was released back to the wild, in a wetland close to where he was found, on August 29. 


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