Service reinstated as PAWS faces new year

By Cory L. Higgs

PAWS’ spay/neuter program is back up and running, but it remains on life support.

PAWS, an acronym for the Patrick Animal Welfare Society, recently was forced to suspend it’s spay/neuter service after more than 80 animals were helped through the program.

Oscar Joost, PAWS board president, credits community support from local residents with getting the program back on track.

Noting that the agency is grateful to the community, Joost conservatively estimated that the agency’s success with the spay/neuter service translated into the equivalent of 800 unwanted births.

He also noted that the spay/neuter program — which aims to keep unwanted animals off the streets by offering low- or no-cost spay/neuter options to prevent overpopulation – is among the most popular and the most needed.

Sadly, Joost said that the struggle to control the unwanted pet population is far from over. While the agency has enough funds to restore the service into the early months of 2020, Joost said he hopes to eventually receive enough donations to operate the entire year.

To do that, more support is needed, Joost said. He added that any size gift, small or large, “will go a long way” to help a pet.

Other than the obvious monetary need, the agency also needs members who are willing to donate time and support as a member or as a foster.

But, Joost noted that being a member does not mean foster an animal. He said that there is strength in numbers, and the more people that are involved, the more impactful grant applications and support systems will be.

Being a member means donating time, resources, and support to the cause; if compelled, members can also foster animals, but it is not a requirement, Joost said.

PAWS and the Patrick County Public Animal Shelter (PCPAS) are two entirely separate entities, Joost said. He added that the two agencies work closely together to better the lives of unwanted animals in Patrick County.

While the county shelter is a blessing, Joost said it doesn’t offer long term care to the animals it houses. It operates on a limited budget, and has a limited window of time to find homes for animals before they are euthanized.

PAWS, however, can use its fostering service to place dogs in foster homes and reintroduce them to a normal life, he said. But members are not required to foster animals.

“That is a misconception many people have,” Joost said, “you don’t have to foster an animal to help save it, you can do so by donating your time, energy and support.”

PAWS also helps pet owners who are struggling through their emergency relief programs, such as providing dog food for animal owners who are having a hard time feeding their pets, or loaning equipment to help train/foster animals.

Joost said that occasionally, other animal rescue groups from northern Virginia will make the trek to some areas and collect unwanted animals to relocate them with families. Joost said accomplishing that on in Patrick County would be a boon for unwanted pets. He noted the ultimate goal is to turn the county into a no-kill-zone.

Anyone who is interested in joining PAWS may visit the agency’s Facebook page or call (276) 694-2378. Those interested in learning more about the work undertaken by PAWS can visit


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