P.A.W.S. touts themselves an animal welfare society, yet many have no idea what they actually do for the welfare of animals.
Citizens of Perry County Missouri and surrounding areas see the words “animal welfare” in the name of the organization and automatically think that this organization rescues animals by way of taking them in, housing them, and finding them loving homes. That is simply not the case.
Although the P.A.W.S. website contains pages for lost and found pets, pets available for adoption, and even pets wanted, the only page that has ever shown a pet in need is the Lost and Found page. Even at that the "found" pets listed only appeared in April of 2014. Prior to April, there was nothing listed, and even those animals listed were not in the care or possession of P.A.W.S.. Their Facebook page is also void of any rescued or adoptable pets.
For years the organization has discussed erecting an actual shelter, but to date it hasn’t happened and there is no shelter currently in the works.
So what does P.A.W.S. do?
According to Rhonda Henderson, president of the organization, "P.A.W.S. was created in 2007 and obtained its 501(c)3 status and state non-profit status in 2008. P.A.W.S. started the spay and neuter program shortly after that."
When asked about their intake and adoption numbers, Henderson stated, "PAWS does not have intake or adoption numbers because it is not a rescue or a shelter."
In short, P.A.W.S. in Perryville, Mo. has not, and does not, rescue, house, foster, care for, pick up, take in, or place a single animal. Not one.
So where does all the donations and grant money go? How do they work for the welfare of animals?
The only viable service P.A.W.S. offers is a spay and neuter program called “Chits”.
The Chits program provides spay and neuter certificates for qualified applicants, but only during a P.A.W.S. function. These functions take place a handful of times per year. Currently the event calendar for P.A.W.S. has no upcoming events listed.
Chits certificates enable qualified pet owners to get discounted rates for the spay or neutering of their pet at area veterinarians. Chits recipients get the discount and P.A.W.S. pays the balance when veterinarians bill the organization for the certificates.
While offering spay and neuter assistance is a noble cause, and an absolute must in bringing animal populations to a controllable level, as one social media poster pointed out, “you can't spay or neuter a dead dog.” Admittedly, P.A.W.S. does nothing in the way of actually saving lives of existing animals. They simply supply funds to sterilize animals that are already owned by qualifying families and individuals.
So next time you consider donating money to an any organization, do some research and see what you are donating to before you write the check. If you want to support a spay and neuter program for low income family pets, by all means send you money to P.A.W.S.
But if you want to donate to an organization that actually rescues animals by taking them off the streets, caring for them, and finding them loving homes, look elsewhere. Search for a local shelter or rescue that goes above and beyond and actually saves animal lives.
Information for this article was collected from the website and Facebook page of Perry Animal Welfare Society and through conversation with the organization's president, Rhonda Henderson. To check facts, please click any link in the article.
Please note that this article was edited to reflect the April 2014 addition on the P.A.W.S. website, showing two lost dogs looking for their owners. P.A.W.S. did not have possession of the dogs, they simply shared the information for the person that found them.