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Volunteer With Furry Stress-Relievers At PAWS

While State College is home to almost 42,000 human residents, a number of other species inhabit the area as well. This includes the cats, dogs, and other animals currently residing at the Centre County PAWS animal shelter out near the mall. Centre County PAWS, established in 1980, is one of three animal shelters in the State College area. However, there are many of things that set it apart from Pets Come First, formerly the Pennsylvania SPCA, located in Centre Hall.

Centre County PAWS is a non-profit, independent charity that is “member-supported,” according to its website. Anyone can become a Centre County PAWS member. You just have to pay an annual fee or you can opt for a lifetime membership, which is going to be a little pricier.

Centre County PAWS is a non-profit organization. Members of Centre County PAWS elect a Board of Directors, including a President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Recording Secretary. These four officers are among the 11 paid staff members at PAWS. Staff members are paid via the general donation fund and a select few donors who help pay salaries.

There are also approximately 550 active volunteers at any given time. Catherine Conlan, the Centre County PAWS Shelter Staff Assistant, informed me that about 150 of those volunteers are current Penn State students. 550 may seem like a lot of manpower but PAWS runs almost entirely on volunteers, so the shelter is always looking for more. Anyone age 10 years or older is encouraged to apply online.

Once you’ve filled out an application, you will be required to attend a training session before you can begin picking up regular volunteer hours. There is a wide range of volunteer duties, including cleaning dog and cat areas, feeding the animals, and general socialization (yes, playing with kitties and puppies – a dream come true).

Because Centre County PAWS does not believe in euthanizing animals for any reason, including to make space in the shelter for other animals, it takes in as many animals as they can properly house at a time.

“The number [of how many animals we can house on average] varies depending on how many volunteers we have,” said Conlan. “Currently, we have up to 21 dogs. We can have 40 cats during the week and 150 cats on the weekend.”

Centre County PAWS relies heavily on foster homes for most animals because it can only house so many. The extra 110 cats are housed in foster care during the week but are brought back to PAWS on the weekends so they can meet the public.

“We’re fortunate to have so many of our animals live in foster care as living in a home can help the animals make smoother transitions,” said Conlan. “We are not a drop-off center, so most of our animals come in as transfers from other shelters and direct owner surrenders, though half of our cats were originally fond as strays.”

Pictures are available on its website and animals can be seen at the shelter on Sundays from noon to 2 p.m. Normally, there is an adoption fee for both cats and dogs, but they’re waiving the adoption fee of all cats and kittens for the month of November. Regardless of the waived fee, all cats and kittens must be spayed/neutered, up-to-date on shots, microchipped, and tested for FIV & FeLV – none of which are free. Because future pet parents pay for these few perks, money from public donations and fundraisers, such as Bingo nights, Comedy Club, and their annual FurBall (so clever), help with other costs such as food, water, and bedding.

Centre County PAWS offers an array of other services including assistance with spaying/neutering, help with animal behavioral issues, pet food assistance, pet rehoming assistance, and animal lost and found. Along with not believing in animal euthanizing animals, Centre County PAWS also discourages the procedure of declawing cats. They offer a detailed list on the website about alternatives to declawing.

Centre County PAWS is a great place to get involved at, especially if you’re in dire need of some volunteer hours. And honestly, who wouldn’t want to spend a few hours a week surrounded by furry little stress-relievers?

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