Animal serving nonprofit in search of office space

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After a successful membership drive earlier this year, the Patrick Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) hopes the community will respond and help with another item on their wish list – office space.
The space is needed to house a desk, a filing cabinet or two and plastic totes of paperwork. “There would be no animals” housed in the space, said Brenda Sims, one of two long-standing members of the organization.
The paperwork “is now in our homes. Tubs and tubs of it. We’ve never had a building that we could have a desk or filing cabinet,” said Sims, who along with Murphy Brown has worked to keep the organization together – even through the lean and low membership years.
The space also would serve as a drop-off point for pet food or other supplies, they said, adding that PAWS works with other local agencies on a dog food assistance program to help households in need.
“We also work closely with the shelter, we post their dogs on our Facebook page” and have taken dogs from the shelter to rehabilitate or provide care to until homes are found, Brown said of the Patrick County Public Animal Shelter (PCPAS).
But that alliance – and the use of acronyms — tends to create confusion about the two agencies, Brown said, and explained there are many differences.
For instance, PAWS does not operate a shelter; although the agency has housed dogs in its foster program. In addition to their own fosters, PAWS fostered 1,279 dogs from the shelter.
But perhaps the biggest differences are related to funding: PAWS is an independent nonprofit agency that operates solely on donations, while the shelter is funded by the county. The shelter also receives generous support from an anonymous donor.
“I’m so glad the shelter has an anonymous donor,” Brown said, adding that “our girls at the shelter are extraordinary. They go above and beyond.”
PAWS also differs from the shelter in that it has no staff and, until a membership drive held earlier this year, only five members.
“We have 20 members now,” Brown said, adding that includes a newly elected five-member Board of Directors.
In the short-term, the organization is concentrating on its roots – offering spay/neuter assistance while continuing to work with both the shelter, the Clover Cat Rescue (CCR) — any cat food collected is passed on to CCR and several other animal rescue groups which help PAWS and local animals, including Red Rover, Angels of Assisi, Roanoke Valley Horse Rescue, the Virginia German Shepard Rescue, U.S. Equine Rescue League and Augusta Dog Adoptions.
The agency also has helped the local Department of Social Services and other organizations, Piedmont Community Services, Blue Ridge Counseling, a hospice program and the Disaster Relief Food Ministry.
PAWS’ no kill foster care program has been suspended for now, but both hope it soon will be reinstated. Although Sims and Brown have occasionally suffered from burn-out, caring for unwanted or neglected animals has been their lifelong mission.
The two have each dedicated the past 16 years to working with PAWS, and when together, stories about past rescues are included in the conversation, from “Momma Dog” at the Lowes Foods shopping center (which Sims worked for three years to trap) to “Max,” an aggressive German Shepherd who had been mistreated that Brown rehabilitated. Max went on to become a service dog for a Wounded Warrior.
More recently, PAWS helped market a litter of puppies in the shelter. “We got them all in homes,” Brown said, with a smile of satisfaction.
Those and other victories will be celebrated next year when PAWS marks its 20th anniversary, even as Brown, Sims and other members, continue their mission to help animals.
“We don’t get many thank-you’s, but that’s not why we do it,” Sims said.
Mail contributions/donations to PAWS, P.O. Box 743, Stuart, Va., 24171 or call the PAWS Hotline at (276) 694-2378.