Pets can be great for children: Not only do they help kids to learn about empathy and compassion, but they teach responsibility as well. Studies have even shown that pets can help children to be healthier by strengthening the immune system.

April 26 is National Kids and Pets Day, which makes it a great time to share some tips to help kids live together happily with dogs and cats.

Fuji and Gala the cats with their new family
PAWS cats Fuji and Gala went to a forever home with a small child.

 

  1. Children under the age of five should never be left alone with a dog or cat. At this young age, they are still learning how to interact properly with pets, and they need your attention and guidance to do so.
  2. Teach your children about cats’ and dogs’ body language. This will help them to understand your dog or cat and avoid accidents or injuries. There are some great pictorial guides available on the internet so kids who are still learning to read can get to know things like the signs of stress or relaxation.
  3. Teach your children to “be gentle with the dog” or “be gentle with the kitty.” That is, no tail-pulling, no chasing or grabbing.
  4. Don’t allow your child to grab a dog’s or cat’s toys away or disturb him while he’s asleep.
  5. Use a baby gate to separate your dog and your young children when your dog is eating. A baby gate can also give your cat a “safe room” if she wants to get away from the kids for a while.
  6. Make sure your cat has plenty of high places where she can observe children without being in their immediate reach.
Goose with his new family
PAWS dog Goose went to a forever family with a number of kids.


Our animal behavior lead at PAWS, Rachel Bird, offers this advice on how to get kids involved with caring for their animal companions.

  1. Let them help with feeding your dog or cat. “Feeding animals helps in the ‘bonding’ process,” Rachel says. “Animals really respond to the person giving them food! I like to mix it up at home, and I will rotate between my children to give them all a chance to feed everyone or hand out treats.”
  2. Let children play with cats using a laser pointer or wand toys. This allows the child to be a safe distance from the cat in order to avoid accidental scratches or bites, and both are having fun.
  3. Children benefit from getting involved in obedience classes for dogs. “Usually, kids love to learn how to teach a dog new tricks,” Rachel says, “so it’s just a matter of teaching him how to teach them.”
  4. Older children can take your dog for walks or clean litter boxes. These chores teach children about some of the responsibilities involved in having an animal companion, and will make them better pet guardians when they become adults.

How have you helped your children learn how to care for your dog or cat? Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments.

 

Find out more about companion animal behavior and welfare in our online resource library.

Thinking of introducing a new companion to your household? See who’s waiting to meet you at PAWS!

Fostering a dog or cat can be a great way to see if you’re ready to introduce a new furry friend to your home. Find out more about our foster care program.

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 Katie Amrhein, PAWS Community Outreach Educator

In the middle of a PAWS education program, an 8-year-old boy walked up to me, reached into his pocket, pulled out a $10 bill, and quietly said, “I want to give this to PAWS to help the animals.” This moment, and countless others like it when children are moved to take action to help animals, is the reason I teach. A better world for animals and people starts today, with you and me, and carries into tomorrow, with the next generation of youth.

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Frances Moore Lappé once said, “Every choice we make can be a celebration of the world we want.” When a child makes a choice that celebrates a better world for animals, they are doing so from a place of empathy and compassion. In order to feel driven to help animals, children first need to learn about, understand, and feel connected to animals through positive relationships and interactions. And so, through games, art, stories, sharing, and problem-solving, I teach.

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I teach children that crows are incredibly intelligent. I teach children how to understand the ways dogs communicate with us through their bodies. I teach children that raccoons have adaptations that help them survive in our ever-changing urban ecosystems. I teach children what it means to be a responsible pet guardian. I teach children that cows have the same basic needs as rabbits.

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I teach children that each and every one of their actions, everything from recycling to talking to their parents about getting a microchip for their cat, has an impact, and they can choose actions that celebrate a better world for animals. I teach children to care, not by forcing it upon them, but by providing space for them to connect to animals and choose to care.

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And so, when an 8-year-old boy walks up to me and says that he wants to donate $10 to help the animals at PAWS, I know that he has learned that animals deserve a better world, and that starts today, with you and me, and carries into tomorrow, with him.

PAWS is people helping animals. The people that will be helping animals tomorrow are the youth of today. And so, I teach.

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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Dylan adopted Will from PAWS a few months ago, but in the short time the two have been together, Will has already made a huge difference in Dylan’s life—and Dylan in his. When we saw that Dylan had written a blog post about his experience with Will, we asked him if he would answer a few questions for us.

What made you decide to adopt from a shelter?
One of the first dogs I remember from my childhood was a rescue Rottweiler. I’m also a crybaby for videos online of abused animals and animals that were adopted by someone who wasn't quite ready for the commitment. All things considered, I knew there was a loving animal in need somewhere waiting to meet their new best friend.

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What brought you to PAWS?
PAWS has a reputation that I can stand by. It was the first name that came to mind when discussing where to go find my puppy, and obviously that turned out great!

What was it that most attracted you to Will?
When I met Will at the shelter, his charm just made me want to play with him. My partner and I had a contagious smile the entire time we were visiting with him. He also has this adorable head tilt when he is listening to you.

How was your journey home and settling in together?
Will did a great job in the car! I remember having this feeling that I was having my first parenting experience: All I wanted for Will was for him to feel safe and trust me as his new friend.

How would you describe Will’s personality?
Will is silly, charming and a great cuddler. Between playing and learning new tricks—quickly, might I add—he chases his tail until he gets dizzy and you can see his head spinning when he stops to rest. He has a smile and demeanor about him that makes people on the street smile when he is on walks.

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How has Will changed your life?
As I struggled with depression and some anxiety about job changes, schooling and being in a new city, I did a lot of research about how dogs can be both a great responsibility and an excellent source of therapy. Will makes me smile every day, from first thing in the morning until the end of the night when he curls up in a ball and gives a sigh of accomplishment after his long day. He has given me a sense of routine, purpose and companionship that I didn't have before.

How old was Will when you adopted him? What do you think is the best thing about adopting an adult dog?
Will was just over two years old. The best thing about an adult dog is that I don't have to take him out to do his business every hour and worry about every little thing like I would a puppy, but I do know that I have at least a good 10 years of friendship with Will. For someone who wants to invest time into training and developing a relationship with a dog but can't be on watch 24/7, I think the best thing a person can do is adopt a young adult dog.

What advice do you have for people considering adopting a dog?
It’s important to understand the responsibilities of being a dog guardian. I wanted a dog for years—I grew up with them and knew that dogs were going to continue to be a part of my life. That being said, I’m just now at the point where I’m ready to accept that responsibility. The time and attention a dog needs to feel loved, mentally challenged, and physically exercised is just as important as the financial impact of medication, vet visits, toys, treats, and food.

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Is there anything else you’d like to say?
You can teach an old dog new tricks. Even a dog who was mistreated or who received no socialization or training in his early life can become a really wonderful and well-behaved companion. At first, Will wasn't house trained, he didn't sit on command, and he barked at every single person he saw. Since then, he has learned a dozen tricks, tells me when he needs to go outside, and is getting so much closer to being a little lover to everyone. If you're willing to put in the work for your little friend, he’s willing to give back.

 

Interested in adopting? Visit our Available Pets page to see who's waiting for their forever home.

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.

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.

The Puget Sound region is home to a wide array of wildlife species, many of whom make their homes in the forests and single trees in our region. Trees and forests provide critical habitat, cover and nesting sites to many wild species including cavity nesting owls, woodpeckers, native squirrels and bats; not to mention the multitude of birds whose amazing nests grace thick limbs and tiny branches alike.

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An Anna's Hummingbird sits in a nest


February through September are the most active nesting months for Washington wildlife, trees will be teeming with life. Please be aware that pruning or cutting down trees during this time can and does displace, harm, and even kill a variety of wildlife species. PAWS Wildlife Center receives hundreds of baby wild animals each year, many of which are displaced when their nest tree was cut down or their nest site was destroyed.

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Black-capped Chickadees nesting


Before cutting down any tree, whether it is alive or dead, please consider taking the following steps to prevent unnecessary loss of life or habitat:

  • Plan tree-cutting projects from November through January, which is well after nesting season.
  • Inspect the tree for active nests before beginning work on the tree.
  • Consider cutting just the bare minimum of branches, leaving the nest section alone.
  • Standing dead trees (snags) are great wildlife habitats, often housing several different species. Please consider leaving snags standing. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife encourages the public to save their snags as wildlife habitat. You can even purchase a sign from them to display on your snag to help educate your community.
  • If the tree does not present a hazard, the best course of action may be to leave it alone, as all trees provide some form of habitat for wild creatures.
  • Many wildlife species are federally protected and the law prohibits destroying and/or disturbing their nests.
  • If a nest-bearing tree absolutely must be cut down, first call PAWS at 425.412.4040 to find out what steps to take.
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A Northern Flicker feeds her young


The staff at PAWS Wildlife Center would like to thank you for helping to preserve our wildlife and their habitats. Please do not hesitate to call us if you have any questions.

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A Bushtit builds a nest

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

You may have noticed a lot more birds singing outside your windows. Spring is on its way, and many song bird species are starting to establish territories and get ready for the breeding season.

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One of the little birds you may see and will definitely hear is the Pacific Wren. We are currently treating one at PAWS Wildlife Center who was the victim of a cat attack. Currently he is unable to fly, has a right wing droop and swelling and bruising on his right wing. He is currently under cage rest and being treated with antibiotics.

Hopefully his injuries heal and he will be able to be released back into the wild to sing with the rest of his kind.

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But until then, let me introduce you to the Pacific Wren:

Species Info:

  • Small song bird with a short, stubby tail and short, slender bill
  • Wingspan is 4.7 to 6.3 inches and weigh 8 to 12 grams
  • Prefers dense coniferous forests
  • Nests in tree cavities, root bases and on branches less than six feet above the ground
  • Nest is made of moss, weeds, grass, animal hair and feathers
  • Clutch size is 4 to 7 eggs that are white with reddish brown dots
  • Young leave the nest about 17 days after hatching
  • Insectivore eating insects, insect larvae, millipedes, spiders and others
  • Feeds on the ground, in low shrubs, near the bases of trees, and around fallen dead wood

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Cool Facts:

  • Sometimes roost communally in cold weather. In one case, 31 individuals were found together in a nest box in Western Washington.
  • One of the only North American wrens associated with old-growth forests.
  • Was once considered the same species as the Winter Wren but was split into a separate species in 2010 after research showed they do not interbreed.

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by JaneA Kelley, PAWS Staff

Why do we talk so much about spaying and neutering? Quite simply put, it saves lives.

When you put it into numbers, the case for spaying and neutering our pets is extremely compelling. A dog can have two litters per year, with an average of six to 10 puppies per litter. That’s 12 to 20 puppies a year for every intact female dog.

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Photo CC-BY hurricanemaine


A cat can have two to three litters per year with an average of four to six kittens per litter. That’s between eight and 18 kittens a year for every intact female cat.

A rabbit can have up to 14 babies per litter and can become pregnant again within minutes of giving birth. With the average rabbit pregnancy lasting between 28 and 31 days, one rabbit could become mom to 168 babies in a single year!

Add to these numbers the knock-on effect if all these babies aren’t spayed or neutered when they reach reproductive age, and you start to see how over-population occurs and why shelters like PAWS are full of unwanted, abandoned animals.

Puppies in cage
Photo CC-BY Danielle Bourgeois


A cat, dog or rabbit who is spayed or neutered not only saves lives. There are many health benefits for the animals too.

Spaying and neutering eliminates the risk of certain cancers. Since the uterus and ovaries are removed during a spay and the testicles are removed during a neuter, by getting your dog, cat or rabbit “fixed,” you’re also making sure your beloved furry friend will be protected from cancer of the reproductive organs.

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Photo CC-BY normanack


Spaying also dramatically reduces the risk of breast tumors in female animals. These are the most common types of tumors in dogs and the third most common in cats. Approximately 50 percent of breast tumors in dogs and 90 percent of breast tumors in cats are malignant.

Neutering reduces a male dog or cat’s desire to roam in search of females ready to mate, which also reduces the risk of becoming separated from their loving homes, being hit by a vehicle, getting into fights with other animals or encountering larger predators.

And timing is everything.

It used to be thought that cats and dogs should be spayed after 6 months of age. However, they can get pregnant as early as 5 months of age. Now we know that kittens and puppies can be altered as early as 2 months of age (or 2 pounds in weight), and that they actually recover more quickly from surgery at this young age than they do as they get older.

Volunteer with kittens

It’s for these reasons and many more that PAWS spays and neuters every cat and dog, kitten and puppy in our care before they get adopted. PAWS also operates a spay/neuter clinic for low-income residents of the area and participates in World Spay Day every year.

In 2015, PAWS spayed and neutered 2,173 shelter dogs and cats and performed a total of 502 low-cost spay-neuter surgeries on privately owned dogs, cats and rabbits of low-income families. And thanks to a grant from the Hazel Miller Foundation, we are poised to help even more low-income families get their furry friends spayed and neutered through 2016. This grant provides free spay or neuter surgeries for cats of qualified low-income residents from the city of Edmonds, as well as clients who reside in many areas of Brier, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Woodway and parts of Unincorporated Snohomish County.

Be a hero to your furry friends and get them spayed or neutered. We’re here to help!

Volunteer with puppy

Sources: 

SpayUSA: “The Pet Owners FAQ”

ASPCA Professional: “Dealing With Concerns About Pediatric Spay/Neuter”

PetEducation.com: “FAQ on Reproduction in Dogs”

PetEducation.com: “FAQ on Reproduction in Cats”

“Why Spay or Neuter My Rabbit? Some Scary Numbers ...” by Dana Krempels, Ph.D., University of Miami