Think twice about giving a pet for Christmas, Paws for Life board chair says

    The Paws for Life Animal Shelter in Riverton housed as many as 55 dogs at a time this year – a challenge given that the no-kill facility only has 26 indoor kennels.

    Despite the lack of space, Paws board chair Pamela Canham said staff “stepped up” to manage all of the animals in their care, even housing some of the dogs in the shelter office, bathroom, and laundry room.

    Staff also “went above and beyond” in their efforts to transfer animals to other rescue organizations or find permanent homes for the pups, she said.


    “One of our biggest successes is just having a shelter staff that have rocked it,” Canham said. “Our adoption rates in the month of November have been amazing.”

    With the holidays in full swing this month, however, Canham advised people to think twice before getting a dog as a Christmas gift.

    “As much as we would love to see the shelter empty at Christmas … if you are not willing to commit to that pet for the next 15 years, don’t do it,” she said.

    An alternative is to volunteer as a foster family for a shelter animal, Canham suggested.


    “We always need more foster families,” she said.

    People can also volunteer to help out at the shelter itself, she continued – and they don’t necessarily have to clean kennels or walk dogs.

    “You can volunteer to come down and snuggle a kitten,” Canham said. “You could volunteer to help out our shelter manager with … advertising, promotion, marketing (or) thank-you notes. …


    “There are all kinds of opportunities to volunteer.”

    Many elementary school classes take field trips to the shelter to play with the animals, Canham said, and this year students from Central Wyoming College helped clean the outdoor kennels before winter set in.

    Other children take advantage of the shelter’s reading program for students who are struggling in that area – or who are simply “shy” about reading aloud, Canham said.


    “They’re hesitant to read in front of their peers, (but if) you sit them down in front of a dog they just go to town,” she said. “It’s a win-win for the kids and the animals, (who are) just happy there’s a person there.”

    Of course, the shelter can always use financial and in-kind donations too, Canham added, thanking the community for its support during last month’s garage sale, which generated enough money to purchase the new water heater “that we desperately needed.”

    Now, Paws is raising funds “to pour concrete on our entire outdoor back area, which will make it easier and healthier on everybody,” Canham said.

    The shelter also needs “all new kennels outside” and “new kennel doors inside,” she continued, and they would love to create a “maternity ward for dogs that come in that are pregnant.”

    “We’re only looking at like three indoor-outdoor kennels where the mommas and the babies could just be away from the stress and the noise of the shelter,” she explained. “That’s a big wish.”

    For more information call Paws for Life at 857-6002 or email [email protected].


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