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Where I Stand: Lend a hand to PAWS

By Stephanie Leaf, PAWS founder and director emeritus.

The Plumas Animal Welfare Society, better known as PAWS, is facing a crisis.

NO, we are NOT in danger of closing (contrary to some rumors). But we ARE in need of help.

I founded PAWS in 1999 over a concern with the high euthanasia rate of cats at the Plumas County animal shelter.  In 2001, we opened “The Cathouse,” our rescue and adoption center located at 2453 E. Main Street in East Quincy.  Since that time, PAWS has rescued, provided medical care, and found homes for over 5,000 cats and kittens who faced neglect, abandonment, or a lonely death.

Throughout our 23-year existence our biggest stumbling block has been our need for volunteers. But it’s even more serious now. We need responsible, reliable people who can work independently. And we need people who cannot only clean cages, but who are capable of doing adoptions and interacting with the public. We need people who are willing to make a genuine commitment to a weekly schedule, not just come in now and then.

The reason our need is greater now than ever is because PAWS has WAY more cats than ever before. The situation is so bad we don’t really know the exact number of cats in PAWS’ care right now but the guess is that it’s more than 50. This is way beyond our normal capacity of about 20-25.

There are several reasons for this explosion in our cat population.  The social upheaval and financial uncertainties caused by covid and the fires over the past two years may be factors in why people have failed to get their cats fixed and why they seem to be surrendering or abandoning them at a greater rate.

But the lack of veterinary care in this county may be another factor. People attempting to make spay/neuter appointments for their cats are often forced to wait months (by which time the cat may have produced an unwanted litter).

The absence of vet care can have other dire consequences that make people more reluctant to take on the responsibility of a pet. Sometimes, people whose animals suffer a medical emergency are forced to haul their suffering pet to Reno or Truckee, placing additional demands of time and money on the caring humans. This happened at PAWS just last week when a seriously injured kitten had to be taken to Reno because there was no vet available in Plumas County. The financial consequences of this have been enormous.

Our “cat overload” also means that we’re desperate for adoptions. Despite our need for funds, during the month of August we’ll be lowering our adoption fees: Our normal $25 fee for fixed adult cats will be reduced to $15. Our fee for unfixed kittens will be reduced from $60 to $50, all of which is refundable once the adopter submits proof that the cat has been fixed. As always, senior adoptions are free. This applies to both senior people (60 yrs old+) and senior cats (over 11 years old).

We have cats ranging from very quiet seniors to very active kittens. We have cats with very loving, snuggly dispositions, cats that are more independent, and cats that need special work and patience. We also have some cats that because of their timidity, may be more appropriate for “barn cat” situations

In addition to needing more volunteers and adopters, we’re also looking for more board members. I know there are many boards where the members’ only responsibility is to show up for a meeting now and then. That’s NOT what we’re looking for. We need WORKING board members.

This doesn’t mean you’ve got to come in and scoop litter boxes. But it DOES mean you have to have some investment in the work of the organization. It means you need to be willing to put in time and effort outside of meetings, doing things like making phone calls, doing research, helping at adoption events, recruiting volunteers, doing fundraising, and maybe (though we hope not) stepping in at times of crisis, like if we have to evacuate the Cathouse at midnight because of the threat of fire.

People interested in volunteering or adopting from PAWS should contact the Cathouse at 530-283-5433. With the advent of covid in 2020, we shifted from regular hours to “by appointment only.”  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.

PAWS is a private 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We receive no public or grant funding and exist solely on the donations of generous people. We must pay our bills to our service providers just like everyone else.

Unlike many other rescues, we are and always have been an all-volunteer organization. No one who works for PAWS receives any sort of salary or payment regardless of their status or position, or how many hours (or years) of work we put in. Although this has been publicized in the many articles written about us over the years, it has apparently not penetrated everywhere it needs to.

If you’ve ever thought about adopting a cat or a kitten, NOW is the time. If you’ve ever thought you’d like to volunteer with PAWS, NOW is the time. Remember, as a volunteer, you also get the added benefit of telling people that you “work at a Cathouse”! In either case, our staff and management will be available to help you make the right choices and guide you through the process.

For more information on any of these issues, please call us at 530-283-5433.  You can view our available cats at: www.catspaws.petfinder.org. Donations can be mailed to PAWS at Box 125, Quincy CA 95971, or made through our Facebook page www.facebook.com/quincycathouse/  

 We’re committed to continuing our service to the cats and people of Plumas County, but we need your help to do this. Our deepest thanks to the many of you who’ve supported our work over all these years.

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