PAWS of Grays Harbor is hosting a grand reopening on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. The event is intended to show progress of its ongoing remodel of the facility, inform residents about what the shelter does, and expand interest in the group by soliciting donations and adding volunteers.
The project is nearing the point when up to nine dogs can be sheltered at 800 First St., in Aberdeen. Kennel stalls should be ready to occupy within a month. Space for cats in the same building is being remodeled as well.
“The kennel has been needed for years,” said Kristina Snyder, PAWS administrative director.
The estimated cost of construction is in the neighborhood of $200,000. PAWS has received $30,000 in donations so far.
Dogs have been kept in foster homes and off-site boarding facilities since the group was founded in the early 1970s. They have been brought to the PAWS headquarters so potential pet owners could meet and see them before deciding to adopt.
Snyder explained there has been costs associated with these boarding arrangements. A local veterinary that has been a primary dog boarder for PAWS receives $10 per day for each one they take in. As few as five or as many as 25 dogs are sheltered for PAWS on any day, according to Snyder.
The remodel comes with a hefty price tag, but when finished, will reduce the group’s daily boarding expenses.
Having dogs on-site will also allow shelter staff and volunteers to work more closely with the canines so they are able to determine the needs of each dog, Snyder said.
Three new dog play areas — one for small dogs — have been recently completed on the property. This not only allows the animals some time outside, but provides a spot for would-be pet owners to interact and watch adoptees.
Some dogs will continue living at an overflow boarding site. Even though the shelter will hold as many as nine dogs there are times when many more animals require shelter. Some dogs also need to be in a more rural setting as they become better socialized, which makes them more adoptable. The dogs sometimes need time away from the kennel simply to reduce stress, Snyder added.
There were no dogs around on Tuesday afternoon as volunteers continued preparing for the Saturday event. An adopter of kittens had taken two of three available at the moment. The remaining kitten was anxious because its siblings were gone and it was the first time the little feline was on its own.
Cats will have an updated showing area among an array of other smaller improvement projects around the group’s headquarters, where they will be able to hold about 50 cats total. PAWS moved to First Street in the 1980s and purchased the neighboring duplex in December 2015.
A public pet bath and drying area has been added to the first floor of the duplex. This will improve the public’s ability to care for their pets and will be available to use for donations. And there are plans for adding a spay-and-neuter surgery and an adjacent recovery area for shelter animals, also in the duplex.
The group intends to increase the number of hours for people to conduct business with shelter staff. PAWS currently accept dogs and cats on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
PAWS services continue to be limited by the group’s struggle to stay within budget and by how much space is available. Adding space and introducing more ways to bring in additional income — as well as further pursuing grants and donations — are efforts to keep the organization around for many years to come, Snyder said.
Each year the group provides shelter to more than 500 dogs and cats and distributes hundreds of vouchers to pet owners to spay or neuter their animals at a reduced price. It’s a no-kill facility, which means it only euthanizes animals that are critically ill and suffering or so aggressive that they pose a safety risk to shelter volunteers and other animals.