When it comes to American football, no other team seems to have quite the same following as the Seattle Seahawks. Their “12th Fans” are known across the United States for the intensity of their roar on game day. Adorning themselves – not to mention their pets, cars, homes, and workplaces – in green and blue, a Seahawks fan’s pride is strong, their support unwavering.
In the animal rescue community, there’s one organization who considers themselves blessed with their very own kind of 12th Fans – committed, caring and compassionate people who have helped make a difference to the lives of thousands of animals in need for almost 50 years. That organization is PAWS.
From thrift store to shelter
"Every time we went to the grocery store, there would be a box of kittens or puppies with a sign saying 'free to a good home'," recalled the late Virginia Knouse, PAWS' co-founder. "It was awful and we wanted to do something about it."
Virginia and a group of friends realized the solution to the tragedy of pet overpopulation was spaying and neutering. In 1967, this dedicated and forward-thinking group banded together to raise money to pay for spay and neuter surgeries. The Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) was born.
The founders first raised money to pay for these surgeries with a rummage sale in an office basement nicknamed "the Cave", which soon became PAWS' first thrift store. As word spread that an animal welfare group was operating a store in Lynnwood, the store became swamped with cats and dogs brought in by people who hoped PAWS would take care of them. Within two years, PAWS opened their companion animal shelter for lost, abandoned, and homeless cats and dogs.
Like many shelters, over time PAWS also started receiving sick, injured and orphaned wild animals. In response to this great need, PAWS began rehabilitating wildlife in 1981, and has become a leading voice in the protection of habitat and wildlife in Washington State and beyond.
PAWS is people helping animals—rehabilitating injured and orphaned wildlife, sheltering and adopting homeless cats and dogs, and educating people to make a better world for animals.
We are the kind of people who delight in the company of an animal friend, who are awed by a majestic eagle in flight. We understand that animals enrich our lives. We also know they can’t speak for themselves and need protection.
Last year, PAWS helped more than 7,600 wild and companion animals in need. And without the hundreds of volunteers who work tirelessly alongside staff 365 days a year, and the generous donors who share our vision for a world where all people recognize the intrinsic value of animals, this just wouldn’t be possible.
In 2014 alone, volunteers contributed more than 53,000 hours to PAWS; that equates to about 25 full time staff! With opportunities in animal care, fostering, and wildlife rehabilitation to name a few, volunteers are an integral part of daily life at PAWS, and cherished for the time they so selflessly share with us.
Then there are the fundraisers and donors who give in so many different ways – from donating food and supplies to help care for the animals, to making a monthly gift, to taking part in the annual PAWSwalk, and everything in between!
PAWS would never be able to accomplish what it does without the volunteers, donors and advocates who support our work so passionately. To the multitude of individuals who are helping us realize a brighter future for animals, thank you.