The PAWS DIFFERENCE: Local pets, local people. We say yes.
When I joined PAWS nearly 17 years ago, I was new to animal welfare and unaware of some of the issues facing local pets and pet families. As I settled into my new role, a call came from a frantic woman in Star Valley, who had more than one hundred cats on her property. She was distraught and needed help. As she cried, she told me she had reached out to several people, but no one was able to help her.
As I evaluated the situation, I suspected this was a hoarding case. At the time, PAWS did not operate a shelter or work with local mental health providers. What we did have, however, were relationships with local animal shelters. When I learned that the Star Valley shelter was full, I called the Teton Valley Shelter in Driggs, ID and spoke with the woman in charge. I described the situation, and we agreed that if we did not step in to help, neither would anyone else.
So, we loaded up a van with stacks of kennels, and I followed in my car to Star Valley. As we entered the house, we could not believe our eyes. Cats were on every surface; they were clinging to curtains and underfoot. The smell of urine and feces of a hundred cats was overwhelming. For the next couple of hours, we worked as quickly as we could and loaded them into the van.
On the drive back to the Driggs shelter, I cried all the way there because it was obvious that most of the cats were gravely ill and many, too sick to save.
It was an eye-opening experience that influenced how PAWS has operated since then.
PAWS is known for helping local pets and their people. We call it the PAWS difference. We say yes to pets and people in need.
Much has happened since then. Our organization has grown and expanded to help more local pets and pet owners. We now serve three regional communities: Jackson, Teton Valley, ID and Star Valley, WY. When PAWS acquired the Teton Valley Animal Shelter in 2022, this was a natural step for us. It is the continuation of a partnership that began nearly two decades ago with a van and one hundred cats.
With these changes, The PAWS Board recently decided to update our name and our logo. While we removed any reference to location, we remain focused on our small regional area in Western, WY and Eastern, ID.
PAWS is the first line of support for local pet owners facing animal-related hardships and we offer direct care for hundreds of local, homeless, lost, and endangered pets.
We have never faltered in our commitment to help local pets and people. As we enter our 25th year, we thank you for your unwavering support of our growth and evolution.
Thousands of local pets thank you, too!
PAWS Executive Director
Amy and Derby, 2006