PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap Programs
Our pet adoption center on Bainbridge Island currently focuses on adopting cats and kittens into loving homes, providing pet counseling and information services, and providing a lost-and-found registry backed up by our website. Many feline guests stay temporarily in foster homes or a separate cat sanctuary before they arrive at the adoption center. Prior to adoption they are all spayed or neutered, cleared for feline leukemia and FIV, given initial vaccinations, treated for internal and external parasites, and implanted with microchip identification. Adoption includes a certificate for a free vet exam. Adopting families are asked to adhere to guidelines including an indoor-only policy.
Our PALS (pets and loving seniors) program provides a variety of services to help seniors care for older pets in their homes as "permanent fosters." PAWS maintains "ownership" of the pets so that seniors needn't worry about what would happen to their pet if they have to go into the hospital or a nursing home. Volunteers visit PALS homes to provide limited services (e.g., nail trimming, grooming, dog walking, transport to vet), and PAWS pays for food, litter, and vet visits. The arrangement is a "win-win" for cats unlikely to be adopted due to their age and for seniors who want to enjoy the companionship (and health benefits) of living with a pet.
Our outreach programs and events provide local residents with opportunities to celebrate with their pet companions, learn about responsible pet ownership, participate in pet-related activities, and support advocacy efforts that benefit all pets and pet-loving families. Educational presentations to community groups and schools, our annual WagFest dog walk event, legislative advocacy activities, and the annual "Picture Your Pet" photo contest all provide opportunities for pets and their people to strengthen their bonds of companionship.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
In 2009, spurred by the impact of the challenging economy on lower-income residents and their pets, we initiated our Pet Food Bank and expanded our veterinary financial assistance program. In its first six months, our food bank program has provided nearly three tons of high-quality pet food to local low-income families through partnership with four area food banks. Through the food banks and seven participating veterinary clinics we also provide low-income pet owners with direct financial assistance for up to $125 in veterinary services for up to two pets per year (in addition to low-cost or free spay/neuter services). These "pet retention" programs keep pets healthier, families happier, and animal shelters less crowded by pets who have been "relinquished" for purely financial reasons.
Like many small nonprofits, our biggest need is for ongoing funding to support our programs, including planned initiatives that will provide "visiting therapy pets" in a variety of settings. We receive no government funding and are not part of any larger organization (although there are many non-associated organizations regionally and nationally that all use the "PAWS" acronym). WE RELY ON the generosity of individuals, business partners, and foundations, as our adoption fees cover only a very small portion of our expenses.