A Surgery for Change

She watched with her deep brown eyes, taking big breaths and slightly tilting her head as she listened to the voices discussing her future.

Starlight was four and a half years old, but already she was the mother of seven who was about to be homeless. Fortunately, luck had smiled upon her because she and five of her puppies were about to be surrendered to PAWS.

Starlight’s predicament is one we’ve seen thousands of times over the course of PAWS’ history, and it’s stories like hers that inspired PAWS’ spay and neuter-based mission 46 years ago. The founders of PAWS were determined to help the community reduce pet overpopulation, while keeping cats and dogs in their homes by getting them spayed or neutered before that first (or second or third) unplanned litter arrived.

Today, over 2,100 surgeries take place every year right onsite in the PAWS Spay/Neuter Clinic. The medical team performs surgeries five days a week, averaging 32 shelter animals a week, including dogs like Starlight and her puppies. The team also aids qualified low-income clients, such as Starlight’s original guardian who agreed to alter the two puppies he was keeping from the litter.

Clients seeking the low-cost spay/neuter surgeries offered at PAWS come from all over Snohomish and King Counties, with the PAWS website and word-of-mouth being the primary ways clients hear about the service.

“I wanted to get my cat spayed before she went into heat again,” explained one client, “but I’ve been out of work and just couldn’t afford it until I heard about the PAWS program from a neighbor.”

This is why PAWS has championed the annual “World Spay Day” campaign, which officially falls on the last Tuesday in February, since 1995. Every February, PAWS and several other shelters and veterinarians offer clients special reduced rates on spay/neuter surgeries. So far, nearly 8,000 surgeries have been performed because of this program.

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