By Debra Moore
Want to watch the antics of a kitten? Or would you prefer to cuddle with a more mellow cat? Either way — PAWS has just the companion for you.
The Plumas Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) has been rescuing, providing medical care, and finding loving homes for abandoned, neglected, and homeless cats in Plumas County for nearly a quarter century. Now the volunteers who run it, need the public’s assistance. PAWS is looking for board members, more volunteers, and financial assistance to help provide care for the kitten and cat population, which is exceeding capacity.
Last year’s Dixie Fire, which forced many people to relocate, accounted for a bump in the population, and housing issues still play a role in the increased numbers at PAWS.
“Regarding the explosion in our population at the Cathouse (a term used to described PAWS), I’m hearing more and more that this is becoming a nationwide problem due to the effects of inflation on rental costs,” said Stephanie Leaf, PAWS founder. “Because of rising rents, many people are being forced to look for different housing situations, sometimes moving in with family or roommates, or sometimes moving to less expensive housing where a pet is not permitted.”
These homeless pets end up at the shelter and PAWS is struggling to be able to care for them. What people might not realize is that PAWS is an all-volunteer organization; no one is paid. Volunteers are needed to answer phones, clean cages, assist the public with adoptions, and spend time socializing with the cats — which range from kittens to old-timers.
“We have cats ranging from very quiet seniors to very active kittens. We have cats with very loving dispositions and cats that need more work and patience,” Leaf said. “We also have some cats that because of their timidity, may be more appropriate for “barn cat” situations.”
“Our ‘cat overload’ also means that we’re in desperate need of adoptions,” Leaf added. During August adoption fees will be reduced. The normal $25 fee charged for fixed adult cats will be reduced to $15, and the fee for unfixed kittens will be reduced from $60 to $50, all of which is refundable once the adopter has submitted us proof that the cat has been fixed. As always, senior adoptions are free. This applies to both senior people (60-years-old plus) and senior cats (over 11-years-old).
PAWS also needs board members, but they need to be working board members. “ Now, I’ve been on a lot of boards where the members think their only responsibility was to show up for a meeting now and then,” Leaf said. “That’s NOT what we’re looking for. We need WORKING board members.” She said that doesn’t mean they have to “scoop litter boxes,” but it does mean they need to be willing to put in time and effort outside of meetings — doing things like making phone calls, performing research, helping at adoption events, recruiting volunteers, fundraising, and maybe stepping in at times of crisis, (as happened last year when the Cathouse was evacuated because of the threat of fire).
“It also should be stressed that we are a private 501(c)3 organization, that we receive no public or grant funding and exist solely on donations. It also needs to be stressed that we are and always have been an all-volunteer organization,” Leaf said. “No one who works for PAWS, myself very much included, receives any sort of salary regardless of how many hours (or years) of work we put in.”
And there is about to be a major change at PAWS, Leaf is taking a step back. “As founder, director, and financial officer, PAWS has been an enormous source of pride, purpose, and meaning for me, but it’s time for me to focus on some other areas of my life,” she said. “Alice Parlier and Louise Delaney have been key figures in the direction of PAWS for the past four years, and Louise will be taking over the role of financial officer. They are both highly competent, knowledgeable people, so I know that things are in good hands.”
People interested in volunteering or adopting from PAWS should contact the Cathouse at 530-283-5433. With the advent of COVID in 2020, PAWS shifted from regular hours to “by appointment only.” Leaf said, “We know this can cause some inconvenience, but we’re still following this procedure in an effort to keep our staff and our clients as safe as possible.”
Donations can be made through the Facebook page or sent to PAWS, Box 125, Quincy 95971.