According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), 3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats enter shelters every year. While these numbers are much smaller on the local scale, Grays Harbor County has an overabundance of dogs and cats in desperate need of permanent homes. If you are an animal lover and want to make a difference in the lives of these homeless and abandoned pets, there are numerous volunteer opportunities in your own backyard.
Consider contacting one of the following organizations and start making a difference today.
- PAWS of Grays Harbor. Paws of Grays Harbor is a no-kill animal shelter that began in 1972 with a mission to help stray cats and dogs find loving homes. In 2014, 209 cats and 182 dogs were adopted through PAWS of Grays Harbor. The organization is operated strictly by volunteers, providing an abundance of opportunities to get involved or provide donations. Monetary gifts help cover the cost of caring for the animals, as well as routine operational expenses. You may also donate pet supplies, or newspapers for cage liners. If you are interested in fostering a dog or cat until they find a permanent home, complete a foster home application and someone will get in touch with you.
- East County TNR. A recently established non-profit, East County TNR is dedicated to reducing the number of feral and homeless cats in Grays Harbor. They trap feral cats and kittens, rescue cats in need and care for these cats until they can be placed in permanent homes. They also provide free to low-cost spay/neuter services to local cat owners who cannot afford the procedure. “We always need volunteers to help with the cleaning, feeding and socializing when we get rescues in,” said Vicki Herrick, co-founder of the organization. “Volunteers can put in as much or little time as they like.” Community members can also get involved with the organization’s “Feed a Feral” program. East County TNR will provide local residents with food to feed the homeless cats in their neighborhood. “When we see a colony of cats thriving and healthy, and kittens being rescued and placed in forever homes, it makes it worth all the time and heart break we go through,” Herrick said.
North Beach PAWS. North Beach PAWS is an animal shelter dedicated to “saving them all.” Their beautiful facility, located near Ocean Shores off Highway 109, provides shelter and care to dozens of cats and dogs waiting for their forever home. Volunteers are needed to come to the facility regularly to feed, walk and play with the animals. Morning and evening shifts are available. “Transport Team” volunteers shuttle dogs and cats to and from Olympia for spay/neuter services. Volunteers are needed to perform building maintenance and landscaping around the facility. Each Saturday, North Beach PAWS hosts one of the largest garage sales in the county to raise support for the shelter. Community members can join the “Garage Sale Team” and help organize and set up this weekly event. You can also volunteer to pick up donations around the Harbor. Foster homes are always in high demand to house pets until a permanent home can be located. If fostering interests you, fill out a foster application.
- Grays Harbor Veterinary Services. For those who simply want to spend quality time playing and interacting with pets, consider volunteering with Grays Harbor Veterinary Services. The facility offers boarding for their clients and frequently cares for strays. “We love to have volunteers come and walk dogs when we have a full house so we can be sure every dog gets the exercise and attention they deserve while in our care,” said Kamma Maldonado, hospital manager for Grays Harbor Veterinary Services. “The volunteer need fluctuates a lot but we do have a volunteer release form individuals can fill out. It will be kept on file for a ‘call as needed arrangement.’”
Ocean Shores Woof-A-Thon. If you have a busy schedule and cannot commit to regular volunteer work but would still like to make a difference in the lives of needy pets, consider volunteering with the annual Ocean Shores Woof-A-Thon This event was created by animal enthusiast Wilma Spike as a way to raise funds to support local shelters and animal rescues. Generally hosted on a Saturday in August, hundreds of dog lovers and their dogs come out to Ocean Shores to participate in the fundraiser. There is a special walking route, vendors, demonstrations and prizes. “It’s the most fun day of the year for your dog and you,” Spike smiled. “To know you have helped a sick or abused dog become healthy and start a life with someone who loves them is a good feeling,” she added. In 2015, the event raised $12,000 which was split between Harbor Rescue, PAWS of Grays Harbor, North Beach PAWS and the Ocean Shores Food Bank (for animal food only). Dozens of volunteers are needed to make this event a success. Volunteers can assist during the event with registration, announcements, set-up, basket raffle and traffic direction. You can also help by supplying water and treats to the pets who attend. Team leaders who volunteer to help with pre-event planning are always needed as well.