PAWS Magazine

Issue 41, Spring 1999

1998 Annual Report - Cold facts, warm hearts

by Mike Jones PAWS Advocacy

Numbers are dry. Statistics are boring. Unless these figures represent lonely hearts fulfilled, eyes widened with recognition, broken wings mended. The 1998 numbers for the Progressive Animal Welfare Society are a hallmark of achievement, a milepost of progress and evidence that numbers count when they reflect the lives of animals.

The number that represents one of PAWS’ most impressive achievements of 1998 is a fluctuating one. The new babies recently born are pushing the tally of Redmond rabbits rescued toward 700. As a key cog in the Redmond Rabbit Rescue Coalition, PAWS’ Advocacy Department helped ensure that these abandoned rabbits will enjoy their lives in safety. Advocacy will work toward prevention of a repeat of the situation that created the Redmond rabbit problem. Speaking of prevention, don’t worry: spaying and neutering will make certain that the Redmond rabbits’ numbers are, well, numbered.

The Advocacy Department publicized a grim statistic in 1998: with the death of Deuce, horses killed in the Suicide Race since 1983 reached 13. These are deaths PAWS can confirm; sources indicate that casualties not publicized may push the Suicide Race death toll much higher. Millions of viewers watched Deuce’s death throes in a report by the television newsmagazine EXTRA; the hundreds of PAWS’ Suicide Erasers are committed to ending a race that has injured and killed dozens of horses since its inception in 1935.

Thousands of injured animals, from American coots to yellow warblers with many mammals in between, crossed the threshold of the PAWS Wildlife Center in 1998. Of the more than 3,000 injured and orphaned wild animals that PAWS’ biologists, veterinarians and volunteers tried valiantly to rehabilitate last year, nearly half were successfully released.

Be it an indicator of the growth of the Wildlife Center or a statistical anomaly, PAWS rehabilitated a record number of bear cubs in 1998. Rehabilitating a bear cub is a unique challenge for PAWS. You can’t just toss a bear into the air and expect her to fly away, or set her on the ground so she can slink into the brush. Wildlife Center biologists scout locations, build makeshift dens far from civilization, and induce a sort of artificial hibernation to put these bear cubs back on track. In a typical year PAWS might see three or four bear cubs. The Wildlife Center accommodated 16 ursus americanus in 1998, with each of these black bears requiring specific considerations toward a successful release.

Harsh weather on the coast gave Wildlife an opportunity to test its response should an oil spill foul our coastline. Severe storms imperiled 130 seabirds in late November and early December. Additional volunteers were called in, at least one supervisor cut short a vacation, and the birds were rescued, rehabilitated, and released.

Wildlife raised public awareness of advocacy and political campaigns impacting wild species in 1998. With the help of local and national media the Wildlife Center shined a revealing spotlight on the Makah gray whale hunt, which has yet to threaten a whale. A seed of doubt was fostered in the minds of Neah Bay residents by the production and delivery of a video and brochure depicting gray whales as gentle giants whose presence in our waters should be cherished, not imperiled. Volunteers’ generous donation of a boat provided PAWS a physical presence in Neah Bay while the gray whales passed offshore.

Credit for the success of Washington’s leading wildlife rehabilitation center is shared by volunteers. In 1998, 257 volunteers logged an astounding 22,868 volunteer hours. These hours represent a record for the Wildlife Center, an increase of more than 60 percent from just two years prior.

If the shelter staff is the backbone of Companion Animal Services (CAS), volunteers comprise the ribs. The more than 400 1998 volunteers walked the dogs and cuddled the cats, providing extra, vital human interaction for our adoption candidates for a total of 19,000 hours. If not for the help of the volunteers, who also answer phones, stuff envelopes and support PAWS’ staff in a myriad of other ways, the shelter could not have been as successful as it was in 1998. CAS reached record highs in the number of animals adopted or redeemed, and record lows in the number of animals euthanized.

Ninety-four percent of dogs received by PAWS in 1998 were adopted or redeemed (to be redeemed is to be, as it’s called internally, "returned to owner" or RTO’d). As for cats, 87 percent found new homes or were returned to their previous homes. The 1998 figures represent an increase from 83 and 84 percent respectively in 1997.

Animals euthanized by CAS fell to an all-time low: just 7 percent for dogs and 13 percent for cats. Compare that to 1992, when 32 percent of dogs and 57 percent of cats were euthanized by shelter staff.

The dramatic decrease in the euthanasia rate is due in large part to a change in shelter receiving policies at the beginning of the year. Contracts requiring PAWS to accept strays from Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace ended, allowing CAS to better regulate intake of animals. PAWS now receives owned animals by appointment from anywhere, making for greater management control over intake.

PAWS’ euthanasia policy is being further defined, but one goal will remain constant: CAS finds a home for every adoptable animal.

PAWS’ off-site and foster care programs contributed greatly to the shelter’s ability to place animals. The off-site program, which places feline adoption candidates in pet-supply stores and other locations for additional visibility by the public, is credited with 300 adoptions last year, nearly all of them adult cats. This number would be higher if not for PAWS’ Satellite Adoption Center in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood. Unlike past years when off-site locations would be used, almost all kittens that come to PAWS are now sent to Greenwood.

PAWS’ foster-care program provides an important link between a companion animal’s reception by PAWS and adoption into a new home. Many of the animals that PAWS receives require special care and additional attention in a foster home, needs that are met by our generous foster-care providers. In 1998, PAWS fostered close to 750 animals, including 547 kittens!

None of this would be possible—not the work of the Advocacy Department, the Wildlife Center, or Companion Animal Services—if not for the efforts of PAWS’ Department of Development. Development, or Devo as it’s called in the halls, is responsible for PAWS’ fund raising activities. Such memorable events as PAWS Walk, Wild Night, Santa PAWS and more are organized and executed by Development for the "benefit" of PAWS’ animals. These and other methods employed by Development, including outreach, direct mail and consultation on planned giving, helped reach and surpass what may have been PAWS’ most important number, the bottom-line budget figure that allows PAWS to do the work that it does.

None of what Development does—and for that matter, what PAWS does—would be possible without you. The tremendous success and progress achieved in 1998 by the Progressive Animal Welfare Society is thanks to the partnership PAWS enjoys with you. We appreciate everything you have done for us and look forward to even greater accomplishments in 1999 and beyond.

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